The day is finally here, the Denver Nuggets will tip off their NBA championship defense Tuesday night when they host the Los Angeles Lakers at Ball Arena. After the two teams clashed in the Western Conference Finals last season, there’s been a bit of build-up leading into the opening night meeting.
Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell was recently asked about his upcoming visit to the Mile-High City. He responded by downplaying the hype but insisted that L.A. would get the best of Denver at the end of the day.
“Just another team. Obviously, they beat us last,” he said (h/t Michael Corvo). “Go down there, take care of business, and we’ll beat them last. Simple as that. Sure, make it what you want to make it, but we just really want to get the win and build off it.”
The Lakers have been thinking about the Denver Nuggets quite a bit
Russell might be the only member of the Lakers who hadn’t taken a previous jab at the Nuggets this preseason. The rest of his teammates have been sitting around thinking about some of the little digs Denver’s Michael Malone took at them last spring.
For example, Anthony Davis sounded like he’d had entirely enough of the trash talk at LA’s media day earlier this month.
“It was just a lot of talking and all of the ‘Lakers are dead.’ We get it y’all won,” Davis told James Worthy. “Me and [LeBron James] had some conversations, like — we can’t wait [to play Denver].”
His teammate, Austin Reaves, shared a similar message with the media just days after.
“I think everybody knows it was pointed at us,” Reaves said of Malone’s banter (h/t Dave McMenamin). “They can do it indirectly if they want, but I think it was very obvious to the public eye, that’s why everybody was talking about it. You see stuff. Me personally, I try my best to stay off social media.”
Tuesday’s opener will tip off at 5:30 p.m. MT and can be seen on TNT.