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Lakers vs. Nuggets: How the teams match up for Western Conference finals

Lakers forward LeBron James directs teammates during a game against the Rockets on Sept. 10, 2020.
Lakers forward LeBron James directs teammates during a game against the Rockets on Sept. 10.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

A look at how the No. 1-seeded Lakers and No. 3-seeded Denver Nuggets match up in the Western Conference finals:

STARTERS

Lakers | Nuggets

Player; Ht.; Pos.; Ht.; Player

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LeBron James; 6-9; F; 6-8; Jerami Grant

Anthony Davis; 6-10; F; 6-7; Paul Millsap

JaVale McGee; 7-0; C; 7-0 Nikola Jokic

Danny Green; 6-6;, G; 6-4; Gary Harris

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K. Caldwell-Pope; 6-6; G; 6-4; Jamal Murray

The Lakers had five days off before Game 1 against the Nuggets, and the hope is that Los Angeles doesn’t stumble in the first game like it did in the first round against Portland and in the second round against Houston. The Lakers again will lean on James and Davis to show they are the more dominant pair than the rising Nuggets duo of Jokic and Murray. The Nuggets are a resilient group, having come back from 3-1 series deficits against the Jazz and the Clippers.

The Lakers’ LeBron James and Anthony Davis are the only two All-NBA first-team players remaining inside the NBA bubble.

RESERVES

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Lakers | Nuggets

Player; Ht.; Pos.; Ht.; Player

Alex Caruso; 6-5; G; 6-2; Monte Morris

Dwight Howard; 6-10; C; 6-11; Mason Plumlee

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Kyle Kuzma; 6-8; F; 6-10; Michael Porter Jr.

Markieff Morris; 6-8; F; 6-7; Torrey Craig

Rajon Rondo; 6-1, G/F; 6-8; Keita Bates-Diop

The Lakers’ reserves have provided a big lift, whether it was Morris starting the last two games against the Rockets, Rondo running the show for the second unit and making critical shots, or Caruso and Kuzma utilizing their all-around skills. The Nuggets get offense out of Porter and good defense from Craig.

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COACHES

Lakers coach Frank Vogel deserves lots of credit for making the correct adjustments and making sure his team never forgets that defense is the key to its playoff success. Denver coach Michael Malone has made sure his Nuggets have stayed the course in the playoffs even when things looked dark.

INTANGIBLES

The Lakers got in a little golf in during their down time, allowing them to clear their heads some from being stuck in the bubble since early June. They did get two days to prepare for the Nuggets, and they said that has let them lock in on this series. After playing and winning two seven-game series, the Nuggets needed some time to rest. Now they must find the energy again to play a hungry Lakers team. But if the first two rounds are any indication, the Nuggets will be ready.

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