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The Nuggets Continue To Be The Lakers' Daddy After Taking Game 1 And Winning Their 9th Straight Against LA

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The Denver Nuggets begin their title defense looking to become the first team since the 2018 Warriors to win back to back NBA titles. While it's rare, this sort of thing does tend to happen in bunches as you look at the different title windows. The Lakers won back to back in 2009 and 2010, the Heat won back to back in 2012-13, then the Warriors in 2017-18. Every one of those teams was easily one of the best in the league at the time and right in the middle of their "title window". Technically, that's where we are right now with the Nuggets. Nikola Jokic is entering his NBA prime, they took care of business and got the first title out of the way, and there's no reason to think they shouldn't have another opportunity to repeat barring injury.

It also helps when you get to start things off by playing the Lakers. We all remember the Nuggets parade correct? 

Hey, you sweep someone 4-0 and go on to win the title, I'm a firm believer that you're allowed to say whatever the hell you want. That's one of the perks of being the champs at the parade. You're allowed to talk your shit and party your face off. 

It's also pretty accurate. Despite Anthony Davis talking about how they couldn't wait to play the Nuggets

they sure as shit can't figure out a way to beat them. For those keeping track, this is now 9 straight losses. We had the final matchup of the 2023 regular season, then the 4 game sweep in the WCF, which brought us to 5 straight heading into this season. The Nuggts when won all 3 meetings this season, and now won again tonight.

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I think we've seen enough of this matchup to understand that these team may play each other close, but at the end of the day the Nuggets are too overwhelming. Joking is inevitable, sort of like what prime LeBron was during his Heat years when those teams went back to back. 

When it came time to slam the door shut and pull away, Nikola Jokic entered the game and immediately closed that door. The thing about playing the Nuggets is they aren't going to make mistakes and they are always going to find a way to get a high percentage look down the stretch. If you essentially do anything to contribute to your own demise, whether that's turnovers, bad shots, or smoked bunnies, what comes next is death. It's how they won their title and it what makes them so devastating to beat. You have to be as close to perfect as humanly possible, because you know Jokic will be. You know he's going to make the right play and come up with the huge bucket. That's why he's Nikola Jokic and the best player on the planet. Remember, he did all that while only taking 2 FTA. 

As we've seen all throughout the games so far in these playoffs, all it can take is one brutal quarter and the next thing you know the entire momentum of the game has shifted. For the Lakers that was the 32-18 3rd quarter. DLo wouldn't stop shooting (and missing) which also didn't stop in the 4th quarter either (2-9 second half), Reaves hadn't really shown up, and once the Nuggets started to force TOs and get out in transition, everything immediately fell into place. Now the 3s are dropping, you end the quarter shooting 59/54% with KCP going crazy hitting transition 3s while Jokic does Jokic shit to completely flip the game. Suddenly the Nuggets entered the 4th quarter with a double digit lead, and good luck getting them to blow that at home while playing with momentum.

I'm sure people will talk about adjustments and what the Lakers did well during the parts of the game they had their own double digit lead, but at the end of the day, the results are the results. This is a bad matchup. When the Nuggets go up a level, the Lakers can't seem to find a way to get there. There's no shame in that, they are the defending champs after all. Looking ahead, what do we think is more likely, more games where Jamal Murray struggles from the floor (9-24) or DLo going 6-20 (1-9)? 

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Wasting a night where the Nuggets #2 had an off night is not how you beat them in a series. They also didn't even really get anything from their bench, and Game 1 tends to be the easier of the first two to steal, so barely getting over 100 and losing by double digits isn't all that encouraging. The Lakers also wasted great LeBron/AD production games, and you can't always rely on those two going for 59 every night, so their nights being all for nothing is tough as well.

So while it may have been a handful of years since we've seen a team go back to back, the Nuggets team we saw tonight sure as hell looks like the one that just won the title, and just like their previous run that included kicking the shit out of the Lakers. We'll see what type of punch they have in Game 2, because all signs are pointing to a cool 10 straight wins for DEN in this matchup.