The Western Conference Finals left many watching speechless. The Denver Nuggets pulled off a sweep against the Los Angeles Lakers in the elimination playoff series with a 111-113 victory in Game 4 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. The Colorado franchise is now set to play in its first NBA Finals in its 46-year history.
NUGGS SWEEP pic.twitter.com/ZCSyO0MpQv
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) May 23, 2023
The Michael Malone-led roster needed only one quarter to advance to the NBA Finals. Despite going into halftime down by 15 points (73-58), Colorado took off in the third quarter, leaving the Lakers in their dust. In the last twelve minutes, the Nuggets defended the advantage gained in the previous quarter.
Nikola Jokić received the Magic Johnson award as Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Western Conference Finals. The Serbian giant once again recorded an impressive triple-double (his eighth in these playoffs) with 30 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists and became only the second player in history to post a triple-double in every playoff game in a series (Wilt Chamberlain was the first). Once again, he proved that he is not only the best center on the planet but also one of the best basketball players in the world. If the Nuggets get their first Ring, it will largely be due to Jokić'.
Nikola Jokic joins Wilt Chamberlain (1967) as the only players in NBA history to average a triple-double in back-to-back Playoff series. pic.twitter.com/urD6ZccP3q
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) May 23, 2023
In addition to the colossal performance of the Serbian center, the magnificent participation of the other four members of the Denver Nuggets starting five can't go unmentioned. Starting with Jamal Murray: the point guard, MVP of Game 2 and Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, was the franchise's second-leading scorer with 25 points, dishing out 5 assists and grabbing 3 rebounds. Michael Porter Jr. recorded a remarkable double-double (15 points and 10 rebounds). Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (13 points and 4 rebounds) and Aaron Gordon (22 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists), the latter who also excelled defensively, helped deliver the Nuggets to the NBA Finals.
Is LeBron James retiring?
The victory of the Colorado franchise tarnished the excellent performance of LeBron James, who also left an enigmatic message about his future in the post-game press conference. "It was a pretty cool trip. But I don't know, I don't know. I don't like to say it was a successful year because I don't play for anything other than winning championships at this point in my career. It's not fun for me to not be able to be a part of the Finals. But we'll see, we'll see. We'll see what happens down the road. I don't know, I don't know. I have a lot to think about, being honest, I have a lot to think about," he said.
Statistically, King James was, to put it simply, spectacular. He came within one assist of finishing the game with a triple-double (40 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists) and became the oldest player to reach 40 points in an NBA Playoff game.
Oldest player in NBA history with a 40-point playoff game. pic.twitter.com/woIblScTvq
— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 23, 2023
LeBron James wasn't the only one to record a double-double. Anthony Davis racked up 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Austin Reaves, for whom the Los Angeles Lakers will have to make an effort this summer to keep on their roster, scored 17 points. In addition, Dennis Schröder had his best game of the Playoffs, with 13 points and 5 assists.
The Denver Nuggets are already awaiting their opponent in the NBA Finals, who will emerge from the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics. Everything seems to indicate that the Nuggets will face off against the Heat, as they are currently 3-0 in the series.
Miami is 1 win away.
— NBA (@NBA) May 23, 2023