The Los Angeles Lakers Face an Uphill Battle Against Defending Champions, Denver

LeBron James seemed more annoyed than excited as he turned the corner toward the showers after getting out of his cubby in the small visitor’s locker room inside Smoothie King Center.
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He exclaimed, “I’m tired as f—!” “Oh my God!”

James, 39, and the Los Angeles Lakers have four days off to recuperate and get ready for Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on ABC), which they won after defeating the New Orleans Pelicans in Tuesday’s play-in tournament game.

In addition to a lot of rest, L.A. might also need some luck to defeat the reigning champions. Ever since the Western Conference finals of the previous year, Denver has dominated this series.

James played an average of 39.5 minutes per game and was Zion Williamson’s primary defender in the Lakers’ two victories in New Orleans to finish the regular season and secure the No. 7 seed.

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James remarked, “There’s no more pace.” “What are you preparing for? Now it’s a running race. Now it’s a sprint. We’ve already completed the marathon.

“I’ll exert all necessary effort. All of the percentages and that kind of stuff is just irrelevant. The year is over. Thus, the goal is to just win. Win the match.”

The Lakers haven’t defeated the Nuggets in almost 500 days. After eight straight victories against Los Angeles, including a sweep of the Western Conference finals the previous season, the No. 2 seed in the West goes into Saturday’s matchup undefeated.

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All of those losses mean nothing to the Lakers. Following Tuesday’s victory, coach Darvin Ham informed his team as much.

Ham declared, “It’s back to 0-0.” “Obviously they’ve had a ton of success against our ball club but there’s always a new day.”

Though there is cause for hope given that the Lakers have won 12 of their last 15 games overall, attention is drawn to the Nuggets and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic.

Regarding the series, James stated, “Have to play mistake-free basketball.” “Toughen things up for them. Of course, they’ll attempt to make things difficult for us.”


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