Honestly, I could have just embedded the above tweet from Mike Trudell and called it a day. The Lakers are very likely to lose this game simply based on the travel aspect — especially since they are coming from the West Coast, where they lose an hour in the air going to the Mountain Time Zone (which is in addition to the hour they also just lost due to daylight savings). In other words, the Lakers are going to be tired in this game and it’s very likely to affect their play.
But, it should be noted, the Lakers are also very likely to lose this game simply because the Nuggets are the better team. Though they did trade Nurkic to Portland, they got back (the good) Plumlee in return and they held on to Wilson Chandler and Will Barton. They also still have that Nikola Jokic guy who is pretty damn good at basketballing. So, the Nuggets are talented, deep, and, oh yeah, have something to play for since they are currently the 8th seed and only a game up in the loss column on the Blazers.
We also know the Lakers are not very good right now — especially defensively. They gave up an ungodly number of points to the 76ers — who were already quite bad on offense, but were also without two of their best offensive players in Embiid and Covington. What will the Lakers do defensively against lineups with guys who can really score, who move the ball, and who can attack from all three levels of the court? That’s a rhetorical question. We know what’s going to happen.
So, I expect the Lakers to lose. But, I also think there will be some good matchups which you should be interested in watching. The first is Zubac vs. Jokic, a nice battle of the Balkans, so to speak, in the pivot. Then there’s the matchups at both forward spots where the Ingram/Randle duo will matchup with Chandler/Gallinari. Denver’s duo can stretch the floor well and are both good defensively, so I want to see if LA’s tandem can make hay against them. And, finally, I want to see Denver’s young guards — specifically Murray and Harris — against Russell and Clarkson when all four share the floor. (Note, this used to be where I’d talk about Mudiay, but he’s fallen out of the rotation and not played in 4 of the team’s last 5 games.)
With that, even though I expect a loss, there could be some good games within the game which keep our attention.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TNT.