Previewing the rest of the NBA playoff series now that the play-in dust has settled

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers
Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages
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We had to wait until late on Friday night, but finally, the NBA play-in tournament is over and we have our eight first-round matchups and an entire playoff bracket. I broke down the first four matchups earlier in the week as soon as they were known, and now it’s time to dig into the other half of the matchups that have been determined by the play-in. Let’s start right at home with the defending champs, our own Denver Nuggets.

2 Nuggets vs 7 Lakers

Ah, here we are again, with a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals. I did a deep dive into this series earlier, so check that out. But the quick breakdown of these familiar foes is that Denver has to focus on taking advantage of mismatches.

The Lakers don’t have a defender that can hang with Jamal Murray, so the Nuggets must play through him. Attack their guards, and try to play D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves off the floor. Don’t let the Lakers live with putting a smaller defender on Nikola Jokic either. Attack Rui Hachimura with size and strength, force them to send help, and let the Joker pick them apart.

The Lakers are a good team, probably better than a typical seven seed, and they obviously have two historically great players in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But nothing has changed in this matchup which leads me to believe the outcome will dramatically change.

I think the Nuggets have the right coaching, personnel, and discipline to stick to the gameplan and focus on the right things. I also trust them to execute in crunch time and sift the close games in their direction. This will likely be a competitive series, but the Nuggets are too good.

The pick: Nuggets in 5