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The Night in the Association: September 18th, 2020

Brand new series, same old Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets in blowout fashion thanks to a sensational performance from the best big man in the league, Anthony Davis.

Davis was dominant on both ends of the court, scoring 37 points on 67% true shooting while grabbing 10 boards and playing very good off ball defense and covering the passing lanes. 

Davis’ ability to get to the free throw line, despite how much people complain about it, is something the Lakers have done exceptionally well at taking advantage of in these playoffs. It was so effective that Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets’s best player, was in foul trouble with five fouls in the game and had to play a limited 25 minutes in the matchup.

LeBron James did not have his best scoring performance but per usual he made his impact felt in other ways. Despite only scoring 15 points on 59% true shooting, LeBron James found ways to create for all of his teammates during this game and really put his playmaking skills on full display. 

This led to players such as KCP, Kuzma, Morris, and Howard to combine for a big point total while being able to convert open looks at an efficient rate. A lot of that is also credited to Rajon Rondo, who was exceptional playmaking wise as well with nine assists. 

For the Nuggets, coach Michael Malone needs to make serious adjustments heading into game 2, especially on defense. If one just looks at the final score, they might be inclined to believe that this was a close game until the fourth quarter in which the Lakers happened to pull away at the end. However, that is far from the truth.

The Lakers were leading by as much as 27 points during this game and scored over 30 points in every quarter other than the fourth, where the Nuggets were able to close the final score gap through garbage time production.

The Nuggets did not have a bad offensive game. They truly did not. As a team they had a true shooting percentage of 60%, which is about 3% higher than league average. The problem was their defensive rotations and effort. They allowed the Lakers to score 30 points in every quarter but the fourth, in which LeBron James and Anthony Davis only played 3-4 minutes each.

They allowed the Lakers bench to get hot, in a rhythm, and score a lot of points on a very efficient rate and that just cannot happen. One can be confident that Michael Malone will make the necessary adjustments based on what we’ve seen from him in the prior series, but there were more negatives than positives from the Nuggets last night.

Offensively, they’re fine, but no one ever had questions about their offense. Their defense will be the cause of their victory ro downfall. 

Game 2 is Sunday night. 

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