Nuggets: Monte Morris, Will Barton, Aaron Gordon, Jeff Green, Nikola Jokic
Lakers: Russell Westbrook, Malik Monk, Avery Bradley, LeBron James, Dwight Howard
Nuggets: Will Barton (probable); Austin Rivers (questionable); Jamal Murray (out); Michael Porter Jr. (out); P.J. Dozier (out); Out due to Health & Safety Protocols: JaMychal Green
Lakers: LeBron James (probable); Carmelo Anthony (questionable); Dwight Howard (questionable); Anthony Davis (out); Kendrick Nunn (out)
If you look at the Nuggets recent game log, there’s a through line between their wins and their losses. The teams that they beat are either bad or were missing (one or more of) their best player(s) and their losses are against good teams. In their last 10 games, they’re 6 and 4. Their 6 wins: Clippers (by 3, Paul George out), Warriors (by 3, Draymond out), Rockets, Kings, Thunder, Blazers. Their 4 losses: Hornets, Mavs, Jazz, Clippers (lost by 2).
So, while I don’t want to ignore the matchup questions at hand and how those will surely impact the results in this game, there’s a fairly simple way to look at this game. Are the Lakers a good team or are they a bad team? I supposed you could argue that the Lakers are missing one of their best players and they might fall into that other category — but, for now, let’s leave that off the table. The results of this game will offer some insight into how good a team they are.
The Nuggets still have Jokic and several other quality NBA players. They’re playing at home. But the Lakers have LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, and several other quality NBA players too. They’re on the road, but haven’t played since Wednesday night. They just had a “spirited” film session where they went over every defensive mistake against the Kings and their head coach basically said “I want to see better defense on Saturday”. They dedicated nearly their entire practice to preparing to face Jokic, who Vogel called one of the most unique talents in the leauge.
So, again, I don’t know if the Lakers will win this game. But, I sure as hell know they should come out prepared and looking ready to compete. And, with the talent they have available, they, themselves, should come in confident that they can win. With that, I want to see them do it. I just do. Because, honestly, the Nuggets are down a lot of guys and the recent results tell me that a team that is prepared and ready to play hard and that is actually a good NBA team will beat them.
So, I guess, my question to the Lakers is: are you a good NBA team or not? And if the answer is yes, then show me.
Where you can watch: 6:00pm start time on Spectrum SportsNet and NBA TV.