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Preview: Nuggets face off against the Lakers

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The Nuggets get a chance to go against a potential second round foe when they take on LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Utah Jazz v Denver Nuggets Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers

When: 9:00 PM ET

How to Watch: TNT (National TV baby!)

Rival blog: Silver Screen and Roll

Projected Lineups

Projected Matchups

POS LAL DEN EDGE
POS LAL DEN EDGE
PG Alex Caruso Jamal Murray Nuggets
SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Torrey Craig Even
SF LeBron James Michael Porter Jr Lakers
PF Anthony Davis Paul Millsap Lakers
C JaVale McGee Nikola Jokic Nuggets
BENCH Kyle Kuzma, Dwight Howard, Quinn Cook, Dion Waiters, JR Smith Monte Morris, Jerami Grant, PJ Dozier, Mason Plumlee, Troy Daniels Nuggets

Injuries: Gary Harris, Will Barton, Danny Green, Marcus Morris

Three Things to Watch

Will the Nuggets defense be able to protect the rim? While the Nuggets were blitzed the Trail Blazers from the 3-point line and the Jazz were able to make 22 3-point attempts (with the help of double overtime), the key to stopping the Lakers is being able to keep their bigs away from the rim. The Nuggets need to be able to limit alley-oops, offensive rebounds, and bigs diving to the rim in the pick and roll. Let the Lakers shoot. Make Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso and JR Smith and Kyle Kuzma beat you with their jump shots. If they can keep the Lakers from getting easy baskets, they’ll have a much better shot of winning this game.

Chemistry. The Nuggets have been without their full starting lineup the entire time in Orlando, and may be looking at a change to the starting lineup for the playoffs due to Michael Porter Jr.’s strong play in the bubble. With Jamal Murray back, the Nuggets are only missing one piece, and if Will Barton is able to go, that might be the lineup that Coach Malone would go with against their first-round playoff opponent. They need to get used to playing together, rotating on defense, rebounding, and making the right play on offense. Whenever the playoffs start, they’re going to need to be on the same page so they can perform as well as possible. Going against the best team in the Western Conference is a great opportunity to develop some cohesion.

Who wins the MPJ vs LBJ matchup? I’m kidding, we all know the answer to this.

Predictions

Los Angeles Lakers 124 - Denver Nuggets 118.