The Lakers put on a spectacular comeback effort in their recent match against the Nuggets, leaving fans on the edge of their seats until the very last second. Though they showed incredible tenacity and skill, unfortunately it was not enough to secure a victory in the first game of their series. Despite the outcome, there are plenty of reasons for Lakers fans to keep their heads held high going into the next round. Let’s take a closer look at what happened and what we can expect from the team moving forward.
1. Lakers suffer critical mistake in Game 1 loss to Nuggets
In Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference Finals, the Lakers suffered a critical mistake that led to their loss against the Nuggets. The team opted to start Dennis Schroder in the lineup, but it was a choice that did not work in their favor. The smaller three-guard lineup proved to be too small and too slow, allowing Denver to take control of the game from the start. Denver dominated the boards, with Jokic finishing with 21 rebounds and creating numerous second-chance opportunities for the team. Despite making adjustments in the second half, the Lakers could not overcome the early deficit, with Denver winning 132-126. 
2. Lakers struggle in early stages of the game
The Lakers looked sluggish and slow in the early stages of the game, struggling to keep up with the high-energy Nuggets. They were outplayed in every facet and were unable to match the Nuggets’ intensity. The Lakers had just as many offensive rebounds as the Nuggets had total rebounds in the first half. However, the Lakers mounted a strong comeback in the second half, cutting what was once a 21-point deficit to just three points in the closing moments of the game. Despite their valiant effort, the Lakers were unable to complete the comeback and fell to the Nuggets 132-126. 
3. Nuggets dominate offensive rebounds
The Denver Nuggets dominated the offensive rebounds in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. In the first half, the Nuggets had as many offensive rebounds (13) as the Lakers had total rebounds. This energy and effort on the boards helped the Nuggets get off to a strong start and maintain their lead throughout the game. The Lakers were outmatched in this area, as the Nuggets proved to be more aggressive and physical under the basket. If the Lakers hope to even the series, they will need to step up their rebounding efforts in the next game. 
4. Lakers show improved effort in second half
Despite a slow start in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Denver Nuggets, the Los Angeles Lakers showed improved effort in the second half. They made a dramatic comeback, cutting a 21-point deficit to just three points with less than a minute left in the game. While it wasn’t enough to secure the victory, it showed that the Lakers have the resilience to make a push for the series. Anthony Davis led the Lakers with a phenomenal performance, scoring 40 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. They will need to bring their improved effort into Game 2 to level the series. 
5. Defensive adjustment nearly leads to Lakers stealing Game 1
The Lakers made a bold defensive adjustment in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Denver Nuggets, nearly leading to a comeback win. Instead of having Anthony Davis defend Nuggets star Nikola Jokic alone, Lakers coach Darvin Ham used power forward Rui Hachimura as Jokic’s primary defender. This allowed Davis to focus on protecting the rim as a help defender, deterring Jokic and cutting off his passing options. While this adjustment was successful in Game 1, Jokic will likely have answers for Game 2. 
6. Lakers avoid Davis defending Jokic directly
In the Western Conference finals against the Denver Nuggets, the Lakers decided to avoid having Anthony Davis defend Jokic directly. Instead, they used Rui Hachimura as Jokic’s primary defender while Davis focused on rim-protection. This defensive adjustment paid off as Jokic failed to make a field goal in the fourth quarter. Although Hachimura may have been nominally defending Jokic, it was Davis who truly deterred him. By allowing Davis to focus on what he does best – rim-protection, the Lakers were able to cut off the cutters Jokic loves to find as a passer and help ensure that the Lakers don’t have to cheat too far off of Denver’s more dangerous shooters. 
7. Hachimura steps up as primary defender against Jokic
In the Lakers’ Game 1 loss against the Nuggets, Rui Hachimura was given more minutes in the fourth quarter to defend Nikola Jokic. The move was to give Anthony Davis the ability to contest without being the primary defender on Jokic. Despite Jokic’s impressive performance, Hachimura’s defense proved effective in some segments. This has led to the possibility of Hachimura being moved into the starting lineup. However, Darvin Ham, Lakers assistant coach, admitted that it would take a collective effort to stop Jokic, and one scheme alone wouldn’t be enough. Game 2 will provide an opportunity for both teams to make adjustments. 
8. Davis excels in role as help-defender
Anthony Davis played a crucial role as a help defender in the Lakers’ Game 1 loss against the Denver Nuggets. In the first half, Davis struggled defensively against Nikola Jokic, but he stepped up in the second half after being used as a help defender on the center. Davis was able to out-rebound Jokic 8-5 and neutralize his playmaking abilities. This allowed the Lakers to gain an advantage in the second half. Davis’ ability to step up defensively as a help defender will be integral to the Lakers’ success against the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. 
9. No catch-all solution to defending Jokic
There is no easy solution to defending the Denver Nuggets’ star player, Nikola Jokic. In the Lakers’ recent loss in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, they tried a variety of defensive approaches to try and stop him. Even with double teams, different defenders, and creative strategies, Jokic still managed to put up impressive numbers, including a triple-double. It seems the Lakers will need to continue experimenting and adapting their defense throughout the series to try and contain Jokic, who has been unstoppable in the playoffs thus far. 
10. Nuggets remain a tough opponent for the Lakers.
The Denver Nuggets continue to prove to be a formidable opponent for the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite a valiant comeback effort by the Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, the Nuggets hung on for a 132-126 victory, thanks in large part to Nikola Jokic’s historic performance. The Lakers’ defense struggled to contain Jokic, but a pivotal adjustment by Lakers Coach Darvin Ham in the second half slowed down the Nuggets’ superstar. However, with the series still young, expect the Lakers to make further adjustments as they try to overcome this tough matchup.