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The Los Angeles Lakers Are Wasting The Biggest Opportunity In The NBA

If we look at the NBA postseason this year, it has been incredible. The Knicks and 76ers have been through two fought games that emphasize who their teams are, the Suns and Timberwolves are talking their trash while showing youth can take experience, and the Pelicans have walked into the (literal) thunder-dome in Oklahoma City while going down.

All of these series have been incredible, and while the Lakers vs Nuggets series has also been fantastic, it has been overshadowed by something much worse: The Lakers cannot seal the deal and are wasting the most significant opportunity in the playoffs.

The Nuggets steamrolled the NBA on their way to a championship last year, including steamrolling the Lakers. LeBron was sent home and forced to retool to come back and try to rechallenge the Nuggets. Unfortunately for him, Anthony Davis, and Austin Reaves, it has worked until the fourth quarter.

In the first two games of the Lakers and Nuggets series this year, the Lakers have blown double-digit leads that they should have easily held on to. This includes a 20-point lead that the Nuggets came back from, which was capped off by a fadeaway game-winner from Jamal Murray over Anthony Davis. It has been ugly for the Lakers, but it begs the question: why are they blowing these leads?

Acquisitions Aren't Doing What They Were Acquired To Do

While much of the blame has been put on D'Angelo Russell's lackluster performance at times this season, that cannot be said for this series. In game two, Russell had 23 points and shit seven for 11 from three-point range.

Russell was adequate, but the bench was not. In 53 minutes, the Lakers bench scored six points (all by Taurean Prince), leaving off-season acquisitions Gabe Vincent and Spencer Dinwiddie completely scoreless. For comparison, the Nuggets bench had 12 points in 47 minutes (ten from Christian Braun). 

While this discrepancy doesn't appear large, it is. The Lakers are trying to combat the Nuggets by running an 11-man rotation (Jarred Vanderbilt is currently injured but will play when he returns) as opposed to the Nugget's shrunken 9-man rotation that leans on their stars in Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.

Jokic ate the Lakers alive after having 27 points, 20 rebounds, and ten assists for one of the most insane triple-double performances in recent history. This game is an anomaly for Jokic, pushing our expectations of him to the limit for what we expect from him, but it is not an excuse for blowing a 20-point lead. The Lakers are wasting this crucial opportunity and doing it hilariously.

What Is This Aforementioned "Opportunity" The Lakers Are Wasting?

It is not every year that you get to face the team that knocked you out last year again. Even less often, that team is the defending champion. The Nuggets are on top of the basketball world and have overlooked the Lakers.

The Lakers took advantage of this in the first half but fell apart in the second half. Although they outscored the Nuggets by 15 in the first half of game two, they scored only 40 points in the second half and walked away losers. 

The chance to win one game and two on the road was a glorious opportunity squandered by Darvin Ham and his lack of action. Ham looks like a typical fan out there, standing with his hands in his pockets like his name is Arthur, the Aardvark.

Not to mention, when you are facing a team with a (likely) three-time MVP and a team that just won the championship, you need to take advantage of your opponent's weaknesses.

What the Lakers have done is nothing short of comical and needs to be fixed. The Lakers can and should win this series; they have all the tools. But they will continue wasting these opportunities and be the laughingstock of the playoffs until they close out a game successfully in the most extensive series of Darvin Ham's coaching career.

The only explanation is that Michael Jordan paid off Darvin Ham to sabotage LeBron's legacy. But that would be risky of Jordan, and he doesn't seem like the kind of guy to take a risk.

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