5 Increasingly promising reasons to believe Lakers can dethrone Nuggets

Everyone is counting LA out against Denver, but there is a growing list of reasons they can shock the world.
Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis
Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis / Justin Tafoya/GettyImages
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3. Last year's series was closer than it appeared

We are all aware of arguably the biggest storyline headed into this series. The narrative that the Nuggets are the worst matchup possible for the Lakers has a lot of supporting evidence. Denver swept LA in last year's Western Conference Finals and took all four games against the Lakers during this year's regular season as well. By all accounts, the defending champs have the Lake Show's number.

But when we start to peel back the layers a bit, we remember that although the Nuggets swept last year, they were not simply running away with each game and winning by 20 or 30 points. It was in fact a very close series, and one that Nikola Jokic described this week as the team's hardest during their championship run.

Call what Jokic said propaganda all you want, but the fact of the matter is that the Lakers had a chance of winning each of the four games against the Nuggets in last year's playoffs. They lost Game 1 by six points, Game 2 by five, Game 3 by 11, and Game 4 by two. The difference in the series was literally Denver's ability to execute down the stretch of close games.

Of course, it is not as simple as Darvin Ham looking at his players and telling them to execute better in close game scenarios. It was the talent and preparedness of the Nuggets that allowed them to best LA in those clutch moments. But if that is something the Lakers can turn to work in their favor this time around, watch out.