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NBA: Nikola Jokic warns of ‘new team’ LA Lakers ahead of Game 1 with Nuggets


LA Lakers coach Darvin Ham jokes they can contain Nikola Jokic by ‘taking him out’, while Denver Nuggets star warns of ‘new team’ they face, so who will be the best in the West?

  • Denver Nuggets host LA Lakers in Game 1 of Western Conference Finals
  • Nikola Jokic is averaging 30.7 points, 12.8 rebounds with five triple-doubles
  • DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news

The NBA returns tonight with the salivating game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets in the Battle of the West.

LeBron James and Nikola Jokic are expected to dominate the headlines in what promises to be an exhilarating Western Conference Finals.

The Nuggets are the No. 1 seed, but they’ve never beaten their current opponents in a playoff series.

They have lost three times at the stage they are at now – in 1985, 2009 and 2020.

Denver held the No. 1 seed for most of the season while the Lakers started the campaign in dismal fashion.

Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic

LeBron James and Nikola Jokic set to make headlines in Western Conference Finals

Unlike previous years, James, Anthony Davis and Co. are the underdogs.

The roster was reworked and they qualified for the playoffs as the seventh seed via the play-in tournament.

They went on to beat the top seeds Memphis Grizzlies and defending champions Golden State Warriors.

New faces Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley and Mo Bamba all helped put them in the running. And of course, with the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, they can never be ruled out.

A totally different prospect in the playoffs, as Jokic warned ahead of Game 1.

‘We haven’t played with that kind of Lakers [team],’ he said.

“So this is going to be basically a new team for us. Probably everything is new, everything is different.

“They’re playing amazing in these playoffs. From [the trade] deadline, they play very well.

LA head coach Darvin Ham

Michael Malone, Denver head coach

Los Angeles head coach Darvin Ham (L) joked about how to contain Michael Malone’s star man Jokic

But the two-time NBA MVP has been in imperious form in 11 playoff games.

Jokic is averaging 30.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 9.7 assists with five triple-doubles.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham has joked about how he will set up his team to contain the 28-year-old center.

“Try to catch him coming out of his house and kidnap him,” he said after Monday’s practice.

‘AD will start on him and other guys will see action against him. Just try to put your best foot forward every time.

Anthony Davis and James showed up in Game 6 winner of the semi-finals against the Warriors

Anthony Davis and James showed up in Game 6 winner of the semi-finals against the Warriors

The Nuggets were the first team to advance to the NBA Conference Finals after beating the Phoenix Suns

The Nuggets were the first team to advance to the NBA Conference Finals after beating the Phoenix Suns

“We’re going to try to do everything we can, get our job done early, keep it off balance.”

The Nuggets have home-court advantage and were 34-7 at the Ball Arena in the regular season. They also won all six home playoff games before the game against the Lakers.

“Getting to the NBA Finals is all that matters,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.

“The fact that it’s the Lakers probably makes it even more special for a lot of people who support us and if that gets Ball Arena even more excited and crazy, then I’m all for it.”

Denver has never reached the NBA Finals. Will it be a fourth stroke of luck against the Lakers?

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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