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by Renzo Salao

The Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in a precarious position amid a heated Western Conference playoff race. They currently hold the 5th seed and are likely to face off against either their crosstown rival Los Angeles Clippers or the Denver Nuggets without home-court advantage in the first round.


Despite that, you’d be hard-pressed to find an NBA fan willing to bet against LeBron James, who’s never lost an opening playoff series in his 18-year career. 


But apparently, Nikola Jokic never got that memo. The Nuggets All-Star certainly sounded up for the challenge when asked about potentially getting matched up with the Purple & Gold. via Mike Singer


“If it happens, it happens. Why not? If we want to win it, we need to play with the best. We are not going to try to fix anything,” said Jokic.


Jokic’s words certainly ring true for every would-be title contender. Any road to an NBA Finals appearance in the West definitely goes through LeBron James, one way or another. In fact, there’s a legitimate argument that facing the Lakers as early as possible might be the best bet to knock them off. 


LeBron James had only just returned from a 20-game absence, when after all of two games he was forced to sit out another contest due to some lingering pain in his ankle. His running mate Anthony Davis has actually missed more games than he’s played this season.


With just a handful of games left on the schedule, the Lakers don’t have much time to hit their stride before the games actually start to matter again in the postseason.


On the other hand, The Nuggets have been counted out by most as legitimate contenders ever since Jamal Murray was diagnosed as out for the season. But the Nuggets have persevered on the back of MVP favorite Nikola Jokic, going 9-2 since their star guard went down.


If the Joker can lay claim to being the best player in a series featuring both James and Davis, the Nuggets may just ride the perfect storm to knock out the defending champs in round one.

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