"Staying even-keeled": LeBron James brushes off Los Angeles Lakers-Denver Nuggets rematch talk ahead of playoffs

Friday, 19 April 2024 at 16:00
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As the NBA playoffs loom, the prospect of a rematch between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets, who clashed in the Western Conference finals in both 2020 and 2023, has stirred anticipation among fans and analysts alike. However, Lakers star LeBron James is keen to downplay the significance of past encounters as his team gears up for their first-round matchup against the Nuggets.
"I think you're putting a little bit too much emphasis on it," James remarked after Thursday's practice session when questioned about the rematch factor. "This is our first-round matchup. I mean, we're looking forward to the postseason. But I haven't been, like, looking forward to the rematch. The game is played how it's being played, and this is the matchup. So we're looking forward to that challenge."
Indeed, dwelling on previous outcomes serves no purpose for the Lakers, who have lost their last eight encounters with the Nuggets, including last year's playoff series.
"It shouldn't be personal at all," James emphasized when asked about seeking payback. "I think you allow yourself to get away from the game plan when you make it too personal. We have a game plan. You go out there and execute it and you live with the results."
D'Angelo Russell, who endured a difficult series against Denver last year but has since rebounded with strong performances for the Lakers, echoed James's sentiments.
"The same as it was against New Orleans," Russell stated, comparing the challenge posed by the Nuggets to the Lakers' recent play-in game. "There's no extra preparation for me. Been preparing all year for whoever we would see in the postseason. Obviously, y'all make it a Denver-D-Lo thing, but I'm ready to compete."
Lakers coach Darvin Ham expressed confidence in Russell's readiness for the postseason challenge, praising his recent contributions to the team.
"D-Lo is in an incredible space," Ham remarked. "He's kicking ass for us and we expect him to do the same [against Denver]."
Looking ahead, James emphasized the need for the Lakers to minimize mistakes and maintain discipline throughout the series against the reigning champions.
"It's going to be challenging but that's what the postseason is all about," James concluded. "It should be."
As the Lakers prepare to face the Nuggets in what promises to be a thrilling playoff showdown, the focus remains firmly on the present challenge, rather than past encounters or narratives.