The Denver Nuggets have no problem playing the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs, at least according to NBA MVP favorite Nikola Jokic. After the team’s recent loss to the Lakers, Jokic was asked if the Nuggets preferred to face Los Angeles in the postseason. Jokic indicated Denver has no desire to try to avoid squaring off with the Lakers in the playoffs.
“It doesn’t matter, to be honest,” Jokic responded in his postgame press conference. “If it happens, it happens. Why not? If you want to win it, you need to play with the best. We’re not going to try to fix anything [to avoid playing Lakers].”
If the playoffs started today, the No. 6 Lakers would indeed square off with the No. 3 Nuggets. It is a very fluid playoff race as the Nuggets have the same record as the Clippers and could slide down to the No. 4 seed. Heading into their matchup against the Clippers, the Lakers are just a half-game out from the play-in tournament and the No. 7 seed.
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LeBron Is a Big Fan of Joker’s Game
LeBron James has been complimentary of Jokic’s evolution into one of the best players in the NBA. During a February interview, James compared Jokic to legendary NBA big man Arvydas Sabonis.
“The guy has an unbelievable talent to see the floor and see the plays before they happen,” James explained, per TalkBasket.net. “You could look back at Arvydas Sabonis and things that he was doing with his passing ability. …Joker continues to get better and better every single year and he’s taking another step forward this year. It’s good to see that. I just love watch guys that just lay selfless basketball and play for the love and the joy and love the matter of their teammates and not just for themselves.”
Jokic joked that he shares the same athleticism as James. A potential Lakers-Nuggets matchup would make for an interesting postseason series. The Nuggets’ championship odds took a hit with the recent season-ending injury to Jamal Murray.
“The speed is there,” Joker joked, per Denver Post’s Mike Singer. “We are the same athletically. …I don’t know. Can he jump as high as me? …Guys, I am joking.”
LeBron’s Ankle Injury Could Linger into the Playoffs
The Lakers’ chances against the Nuggets or any team in the playoffs is dependent on the health of James. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported there is some concern that James’ ankle injury could linger into the postseason. James is expected to play with “discomfort” during the Lakers’ playoff run.
“I think [LeBron] is going to try to play again in the regular season,” Wojnarowski explained on Get Up. “… He probably can’t get [the ankle] fully healthy until the offseason. He’s going to have to play with discomfort in the playoffs.”
After his brief return, James will miss at least three games with the All-Star likely to be absent from the Lakers’ upcoming matchups against the Clippers and Blazers. It will be worth watching how James is moving around when he is able to finally return to the court.
“James and the Lakers will continue to evaluate the injury and will proceed cautiously as the Lakers ramp up for the postseason, sources said,” Wojnarowski reported. “James has experienced some trouble making hard cuts and exploding since his return from six weeks on the sideline with the injury, sources said.”