The Denver Nuggets are one win away from the NBA finals, but star big man Nikola Jokic admitted to still being “worried” about the Los Angeles Lakers. Jokic cited the presence of LeBron James as a major reason for his concern, and the Nuggets superstar expects to see an “aggressive” Lakers team in Game 4.
“To be honest, I’m not gonna say that I’m scared, but I’m worried because they have LeBron on the other side and he’s capable of doing everything,” Jokic explained during a May 21, 2023 press conference. “We’re going to come here with the same mindset, same focus and I think that’s going to put [us] in a situation to win a game, but we never know.
“They’re going to be aggressive. They’re going to be extra physical. They’re going to run more. Everything’s gonna be on a different level or one more of anything. So, we will see.”
Lakers News: Center Mo Bamba Is Expected to Play vs. Nuggets in Game 4
Jokic has been stellar during the NBA playoffs averaging a triple-double with 29.9 points, 13.2 rebounds and 10.1 assists per game while shooting a blazing 47.1% from long range. The Lakers are expecting Mo Bamba to return, but the former top-10 pick is unlikely to have an answer to helping Los Angeles slow down Joker.
“Lakers coach Darvin Ham tells @NBAonTNT he expects center Mo Bamba (ankle) to be available for Game 4 vs. Nuggets on Monday,” NBA insider Chris Haynes tweeted on May 21.
The Lakers continue to express confidence that the team has a chance to turn the series around. Los Angeles guard Lonnie Walker cited the team’s ability to bounce back after beginning the season 2-10 as one of the reasons players are maintaining faith against Denver.
“It ain’t over until it’s four games, that’s the best part about it,” Walker told reporters on May 21. “Understanding the odds that was already dealt [to] us previously before trades when we were 2-10 and the percentages were already showing about not making the playoffs, and we made it this far. I think the best part about it is we’ve been in this kind of position before.”
Shaq O’Neal on Lakers: ‘You’re Not Going to Beat the Denver Nuggets the Way They’re Playing [for] 4 Games’
Not everyone is buying the confidence that the Lakers are expressing heading into Game 4. Former Lakers big man Shaquille O’Neal expressed skepticism that Los Angeles truly has confidence given the way the series has gone. O’Neal cited his own experience getting swept admitting there is a difference between what players say versus their own belief to win a series on the brink of elimination.
“I am the biggest superstar to ever play the game [and] I’ve probably been swept the most,” O’Neal said during a May 21 episode of TNT’s “NBA Tipoff.” “When you’re down 0-3, you have to say that. You can’t say, ‘Well, we tried.’ …Listen, you may win one game, but you’re not going to beat [the] Denver Nuggets the way they’re playing [for] four games. Not gonna happen.
“…You know what I like about Denver, the way they’re playing? Yes, their stars are having good and bad nights, but they’re doing it by delegation.”