Winning a championship is the primary goal for most members of the association. It’s how legacies are birthed. We’ve seen a fair share of greats etch their name in the game’s history book following great performances in the NBA playoffs. Resilience and determination are required to become a champion. For some, the combination leads to a lengthy career.
LeBron James and Nikola Jokic are fighting to add to their legacies. An exciting Western Conference Finals matchup provides them a chance to add championship rights to their resumes. The task is difficult, but these superstars are determined to succeed. As we watch the Nuggets and Lakers battle, who will rise as the best player in the National Basketball Association?
LeBron James proved he can still succeed in the post-season
Advancing to the NBA Finals would be a monumental achievement for King James. A race against father time became the theme of his 20th season. Regardless of age, LeBron managed to lead the Lakers to the playoffs in superstar fashion. Los Angeles experienced a slow start to the season. They had two five-game losing streaks and drifted to the bottom of the standings. A roster shuffle and trade deadline acquisitions gave the Lakers a new identity in the knick of time.
LeBron finished the regular season ranked ninth in points per game (28.9) and 21st in minutes per game. His valiant effort with a distorted roster was enough for the Lakers to clinch the seventh seed in the Western Conference.
Performing in clutch moments has become one of LeBron’s signatures. His poise and leadership feed confidence to his teammates while they work to accomplish the impossible. Experience in playoff situations will help the four-time champion navigate this series – ultimately defeating the Denver Nuggets. If Los Angeles advances, LeBron will have a chance to compete in his eleventh NBA Finals. He’s four for ten (40%) in his appearances – hungry to add another title to the trophy case.
Nikola Jokic continues to dominate his opponents
Joel Embiid earned the most valuable player honor, but Nikola Jokic probably believes otherwise. His performances this post-season deserve multiple accolades – including an NBA title. The Joker has scored 25+ points in the last five games – including a 53-point performance in Game 5 against the Suns. He’s dominated the glass and continues to protect the rim. His playmaking is absurd for his size – creating shots for open teammates.
Finding an answer for a big man who can do it all is frustrating. On Tuesday, Nikola Jokic recorded 21 rebounds and 14 assists. His 34 points came with ease. Extra defensive attention did not hinder his success one bit.
Los Angeles did their best to slow down Jokic, but his skillset provided new ways to help his team. His extra passes resulted in easy points, and his defensive presence limited points in the paint.
Jokic dominated Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. He made an impact on the court and helped his team take the lead in the series – but is he enough to break LeBron’s will?
If anyone can lead their team to victory as an underdog, it’s Lebron James. He’s proven that he can accomplish anything when he’s determined on multiple occasions – setting the stage for a Western Conference battle for the ages.