Lakers to Face Nuggets in First Round of 2024 NBA Playoffs

The Lakers secure the 7th seed in the West, setting up a highly anticipated rematch with the defending champion Nuggets in the first round. The outcome could have significant implications for both teams' legacies.

Salman Khan
Updated On
New Update
Lakers to Face Nuggets in First Round of 2024 NBA Playoffs

Lakers to Face Nuggets in First Round of 2024 NBA Playoffs

The Los Angeles Lakers have secured the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference playoffs after defeating the New Orleans Pelicans 110-106 in the Play-In Tournament on Tuesday. The Lakers will now face the defending champion Denver Nuggets in the first round, with Game 1 tipping off on Saturday at Ball Arena in Denver.

The Nuggets, who finished the regular season with a 57-25 record, have won eight consecutive head-to-head matchups against the Lakers dating back to the 2022-23 season. Denver swept Los Angeles in last year's Western Conference Finals en route to winning their first NBA championship in franchise history.

In the regular season, Nuggets star Nikola Jokic averaged 29.3 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists against the Lakers, while Jamal Murray averaged 24.7 points, 5 rebounds, and 9.3 assists. The Lakers will need strong performances from LeBron James and Anthony Davis to counter Denver's dynamic duo.

Why this matters: The Lakers-Nuggets series is a rematch of last year's Western Conference Finals and features several of the NBA's biggest stars. The outcome could have significant implications for both teams' legacies and the balance of power in the Western Conference.

The Lakers had to battle just to make the playoffs, nearly missing out before securing the No. 8 seed in the final week of the regular season. In the Play-In game against the Pelicans, the Lakers built a large lead but had to hold off a late rally to secure the victory. James led the way with 23 points, 9 assists, and 9 rebounds, while Davis added 20 points and 15 rebounds.

"We're playing the best team in the West," Lakers coach Darvin Ham said after the game. "We're going to have to be at our best. But the slate is clean, the season series is over, and we're looking forward to the challenge."

The Nuggets, meanwhile, have had nearly a week of rest after finishing the regular season with the best record in the Western Conference. Denver won three of four meetings with the Lakers this season, but star center Nikola Jokic knows the playoffs are a different animal.

"The Lakers are playing their best basketball of the season right now," Jokic said. "We know it's going to be a tough series. We have to be ready from the start and play our game."

Game 1 of the Lakers-Nuggets series will tip off at 8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday and will be televised nationally on ABC.

Key Takeaways

  • Lakers secure 7th seed, face defending champion Nuggets in 1st round
  • Nuggets won 8 straight vs Lakers, swept them in last year's WCF
  • Jokic, Murray led Nuggets in regular season; Lakers need big games from LeBron, AD
  • Lakers survived late rally to beat Pelicans in Play-In, now face tougher test
  • Game 1 of Lakers-Nuggets series tips off Saturday at 8:30pm ET on ABC