The Los Angeles Lakers may have had their minds on the Denver Nuggets for the past few months, but Nuggets coach Michael Malone has made it clear that his team has moved on from the Western Conference finals sweep. Despite some Lakers players discussing the Nuggets and their previous series, Malone believes that it’s all in the past now. He emphasizes that this is a new season and a new challenge, and the Nuggets are focused on that. Malone acknowledges the respect his team has for the Lakers and the intense series they had, but he doesn’t pay attention to any trash talk or what the Lakers may be saying. He suggests that if the Lakers are still worried about the Nuggets, it’s their problem, not his team’s.
The season opener between the Nuggets and Lakers in Denver is sure to have added spice after the Nuggets’ sweep of the Lakers in the conference finals. Lakers star Anthony Davis revealed that he found the trash talk from the Nuggets to be motivational. While the Nuggets were celebrating their victory, Davis and LeBron James were already looking forward to the opportunity of facing them again. The trash talk was a source of motivation for the Lakers, inspiring them to up their game and prove themselves in the upcoming season. It will be interesting to see how this motivation manifests on the court when the two teams face off once again.
During the Western Conference finals, Malone felt that the narrative was more about the Lakers than the Nuggets. He believed that his team was overshadowed, with the focus of the national chatter being on the Lakers. However, after the sweep, Malone confidently stated that the Lakers had gone fishing while the Nuggets were still playing. This remark reflected his team’s determination and resilience. Malone even playfully referred to himself as “the Lakers’ daddy” during the Denver championship parade. These comments and jokes were a way for Malone to express his pride in his team’s accomplishments and assert their presence in the league.
Indirect Aims and Obvious Reactions
The Nuggets’ comments about the Lakers were not subtle. They were meant to be pointed and intentional, drawing attention from the public and the Lakers themselves. Nuggets players and staff made it clear that they believed they were the superior team and that they did not fear the Lakers. Lakers swingman Austin Reaves acknowledged the obvious nature of the Nuggets’ comments, stating that everyone knew it was directed at them. The remarks from the Nuggets only added fuel to the fire and intensified the potential rivalry between the two teams.
Moving On and Focusing Forward
Despite the lingering tension and history between the Lakers and Nuggets, Malone declared that there is no budding rivalry between the two teams. He stated that playing in the Western Conference finals twice in the last couple of years does not automatically make it a rivalry. Malone compares it to legendary rivalries like Boston-L.A. and the Knicks-Miami Heat. He doesn’t actively welcome or reject the idea of a rivalry with the Lakers but chooses to focus on the future, with his sights set on the 2023-24 season. Malone’s mindset reflects his determination to continually improve and strive for greatness, rather than getting caught up in rivalries.
The Lakers’ motivation stems from the trash talk they received after being swept by the Nuggets in the conference finals. The Nuggets, on the other hand, have moved on from that victory and are focused on the new challenges that lie ahead. While the tension and history between the two teams add spice to their upcoming matchup, Malone downplays the notion of a budding rivalry. Both teams have shown respect for each other but approach the new season with different mindsets. As the season unfolds, it will be intriguing to see how these dynamics play out on the court and whether the Lakers can use their motivation to bounce back or if the Nuggets can continue their success.
Source : ESPN.com