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Lakers’ Austin Reaves is wary of Jamal Murray’s threat ahead of Nuggets’ playoff game

How will the Lakers handle the one-two punch of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets?

For the second consecutive postseason, the Los Angeles Lakers will be tasked with taking on two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and his Denver Nuggets. But as the Lakers prepare to face the defending NBA champions, this time in the first round and not the Western Conference Finals, they know full well that The Joker isn’t the only Nugget to keep an eye on to hold.

Point guard Jamal Murray is the established “2” within the 1-2 that makes the Denver Nuggets as successful as they have been over the past half of a decade. And like his great Serbian teammate, Murray has proven to be a dynamic and sometimes downright dominant postseason performer. Murray is scoring 17.5 points per game in 469 career regular season games, but his numbers in the postseason are noticeably better. On 47-40-91 shooting, Murray is averaging 25 points per game in 53 career NBA Playoff games, meaning the Lakers have as much work to do in stopping Jamal Murray as they do making life difficult for Nikola Jokic.

During shootaround on Friday afternoon, Lakers guard Austin Reaves discussed the challenge of dealing with both Jokic and Murray in the postseason, admitting there is no right answer to the league’s most devastating pick-and-roll.

Last year in the Western Conference Finals, Jamal Murray torched the Lakers, averaging 32.5 points per game on 53-41-95 shooting splits in the Nuggets’ 4-0 series win. Even more impressive, Murray led all scorers in a series that included LeBron James, Anthony Davis and eventual NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokic, who presented just as big, if not even bigger, problems for the Lakers than Murray, finishing the series with averages. of 27.8 points, 14.5 rebounds and 11.8 assists.

The Lakers don’t have a good answer for Murray or Jokic, so as Austin Reaves shared, all five defensemen will have to make a collective effort to keep the Jokic/Murray two-man game from slicing the Lakers and sending them home short. their championship goals for the second straight postseason. Some of this could fall on the shoulders of Reaves, who has the size and competitiveness to make Murray’s life at least theoretically a little difficult. But at least occasionally, that assignment will fall on the shoulders of backup guard Gabe Vincent, who defended Murray with some success in last year’s NBA Finals as a member of the Miami Heat.

Just as important to the Lakers’ success in this series is Austin Reaves’ ability to make an impact on the other end of the floor. Interestingly, during last year’s Western Conference Finals, Reaves – along with Murray, Jokic, LeBron James and Anthony Davis – was one of five players to average at least 20 points per game in that series. He will need to be around that number again to give the Lakers a chance against the defending NBA champions.