Nikola Jokic warns of 'new team' LA Lakers ahead of Game 1

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

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

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

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

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

They’ve lost three times at the stage they’re at now – in 1985, 2009 and 2020. 

Denver have held the first seed for the majority of the season while the Lakers started the campaign abysmally.

LeBron James and Nikola Jokic are set to steal the headlines in Western Conference Finals

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

The roster was reworked and they advanced to the playoffs as a seventh seed via the play-in tournament. 

They then beat higher seeds Memphis Grizzlies and defending champions Golden State Warriors.

Fresh faces Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley and Mo Bamba have all helped to get them into contention. And of course, with the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, they can never be ruled out. 

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

‘We didn’t play with this 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. Since [the trade] deadline, they’re playing really well.’

LA 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 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.

‘A.D. will start on him and other guys will see action against him. Just try to put our best foot forward every time out. 

Anthony Davis and James showed up in win-and-in Game 6 of semifinals vs. the Warriors

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

‘We’ll try to do everything we can, do our work early, keep him off balance.’

The Nuggets have home-court advantage and had a 34-7 record at Ball Arena in the regular season. They’ve also won all six home playoff games ahead of the matchup with the Lakers.

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

‘The fact that it’s the Lakers makes it probably that much more special for a lot of people that support us and if that’s going to allow Ball Arena to be that much more excited and crazy, then I’m all for it.’ 

Denver have never reached the NBA Finals. Will it be a case of fourth time lucky against the Lakers?

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