Despite looking set to be run off the floor for at least the first half of Game 1, the Lakers were the team that put a scare into the Nuggets by the time the final buzzer rang. After pushing all the right buttons in the second half and making the adjustments, the Lakers stormed back from down 21 points and nearly stunned the hosts in Game 1.
Walking away from the game, the Lakers certainly could feel like a team that had the Nuggets thinking and potentially flustered. But in the day that has followed, Denver doesn’t sound like a team all that worried after Game 1.
Bruce Brown says Denver isn’t too worried about adjusting to the Rui Hachimura matchup on Nikola Jokic that the Lakers went to in Game 1. Overall, the Nuggets aren’t concerned. They’ve seen that adjustment made against them many times throughout the regular season and playoffs.— Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) May 17, 2023
Michael Porter Jr. on the Lakers’ adjustment to put Rui Hachimura on Nikola Jokic: “I don’t think that will be an issue for us next game. We know how to counter that.”— Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) May 17, 2023
Michael Malone: “Much is being made of them putting Rui Hachimura on Nikola Jokic like we’ve never seen that before.”— Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) May 17, 2023
There are a couple of takeaways from these quotes about the Rui Hachimura adjustment the Lakers made. For one, if they’re all so confident and familiar with how to adjust, why did they seem so lost in the game when it happened?
Some joking aside, the Nuggets probably are familiar with this type of defense from a team and know how to attack it. It might be why the Lakers played that card midway through a game, knowing the familiarity Denver may have with it.
It worked in the middle of the game and was a nice curveball. It wouldn’t be a surprise, though, if the Lakers don’t start with that defense in Game 2. Keeping it in the back pocket, as that curveball is perhaps the best scenario.
After assuring everyone they know how to deal with a defense they didn’t appear to know how to deal with during the game, the Nuggets also addressed the fact that...nobody believes in them?
Bruce Brown on the Nuggets being doubted:— Brendan Vogt (@BrendanVogt) May 17, 2023
“Nobody watches us. That’s why.”
Notably, based on our collection of predictions heading into this series along with Vegas odds, everyone believes in the No. 1 seed. Weird how that works.
Alas, Denver appears to be awfully comfortable after narrowly avoiding an all-time collapse. Coming up against a team has not lost consecutive games this postseason and has been great at making adjustments, the Nuggets comfort level will be tested.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.