The Denver Nuggets continued their brilliant run this postseason as they swept their rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers 4-0 after a 113-111 win in the fourth game of the seven-game series. With this win, they took their revenge against their Western Conference rivals as both teams last met at this stage in 2020. The Lakers won that series 4-1.
Before this time, the Nuggets made the Western Conference finals five times (1978, 1985, 2009, 2020) and lost all four times against the Lakers.
Monday was yet another time when Nikola Jokic proved why he is a player with attributes the NBA has never seen before. On one of the nights where heroes can become zeroes, the two-time MVP played lights out. He finished with 30 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists, three blocks, and a steal (shot 11-of-24 from the floor, including a 3-of-6 effort from beyond the arc).
With this performance, he took the Nuggets franchise to the NBA Finals, a stage where they have never been before in their 47 years. Jokic was awarded the Western Conference Finals MVP trophy after the game.
It's worth mentioning that after yesterday's triple-double performance, Jokic broke Wilt Chamberlain's 1967 NBA record with his eighth performance in a single postseason. He has at least four more games to add to his tally.
The Nuggets coach, understandably so, was full of praise for his star player and shared his thoughts.
"For me, Jokic hasn't proven anything new because I already know he's a great player. But I think he's shown other people nationally that he's real, what he's doing is accurate, the MVPs are correct, and the triple-doubles are real. All the silly narratives this year are just that, silly and ignorant. He said.
"Nikola has gone through three rounds where he's averaging a triple-double. Have you seen any stat padding out there? I'm serious. Enough with the silliness. The guy is a great player. Give him his damn respect." Nuggets coach further added.
However, Nikola Jokic wasn't the only player who shined on the biggest stage as Jamal Murray scored 25 points, playing a crucial part in the Nuggets' historic win. Throughout the series, Murray has been unstoppable. When Jokic seemed to be in a slump, it was then when Murray took over the game to ensure the Nuggets would prevail.
After the game, Murray expressed his emotions with the following statements:
“It’s incredible. It’s a lot of fun. It’s surreal. We’re going to keep making history. That’s the thing. We’re going to keep that mindset.”
Meanwhile, for LA Lakers fans, yesterday was just another heartbreaking night. The way things were going for them at the start of the season, no one was expecting them even to reach this stage. Still, after they knocked off second-seeded Memphis Grizzlies and eliminated the defending champion Golden State Warriors, Lakers fans were right to hope for one of the most unlikely championship runs in NBA history. Still, the better team won.
For the losing side, superstar LeBron James produced another brilliant performance, but it wasn't enough in the end. James was unstoppable since the start of the game, scored 21 points in the first quarter, and helped the Lakers to take a 34-26 lead. He shot 7 of 9 from the floor, including a 4-of-4 effort from behind the arc.
He continued to dominate in the second quarter and by half he scored 31 points and helped the Lakers take a handsome 73-58 lead.
After halftime, the 38-year-old legend couldn't keep up the pace and ended the game with 40 points and just short of a triple-double with ten rebounds, nine assists, and two steals. shot.
That said, the Nuggets are now just four wins away from the first NBA Championship in their history and will face Eastern Conference Finals winner Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat on June 1. The Miami Heat own a 3-1 lead to the series, so it's likely that's who the Nuggets will face. The Boston Celtics were able to get their first win Tuesday night and avoid being swept.
However, there have been 150 teams who have gone down 0-3 in an NBA playoff series, and no team has ever come back to win the series.