Did Lakers Do More Than Just Get Nuggets’ Monkey Off Their Backs?

6 min readApr 28, 2024

It may be just an illusion but the Los Angeles Lakers finally turning the Denver Nuggets 11-game win streak into a 1-game losing streak may have done more than just getting that Denver monkey off of L.A.’s back.

What looked like a hopeless situation with the Los Angeles Lakers on the verge of being swept in the playoffs by the Denver Nuggets for the second straight year has now suddenly been replaced by a bright glimmer of hope.
While no NBA team has ever come back from being down 0–3 in a 7-game series, the Denver Nuggets’ Game-4 stumble may have opened the door for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers to make a historic comeback.

The Lakers face what is thought to be an impossible challenge to beat the world champion Nuggets three more straight times to pull off the NBA’s first comeback from 0–3 yet the task suddenly does not seem undoable.
The way the Lakers won last night has suddenly put the world back into proper perspective. The Nuggets are no longer unbeatable and down 1–3, all L.A. needs to do is win three more games to achieve the impossible.

Momentum is a fair weather friend and getting the Nuggets’ monkey off the Lakers’ back has changed the controlling dynamic of this series from the Nuggets’ sweeping L.A. to the Lakers pulling off the impossible comeback.
Win in Denver on Monday and the Nuggets will suddenly be the team in the pressure cooker with just a 2–3 lead heading back to L.A. for Game 6, hoping and praying not to become the first NBA team to blow an 0–3 lead.

So let’s look at what the Lakers’ odds are for taking down the Nuggets and winning the 2024 NBA Championship and how Los Angeles’ finally beating Denver has changed the dynamics of this critical first round playoff series.

What Are Lakers’ Odds of Winning?

There’s a reason why in the history of the NBA, no team has been able to come back after trailing 0–3 in a 7-game playoff series. In fact, Out of 154 teams who found themselves in that situation, none has ever come back.

The odds of the Lakers becoming the first NBA team in history to come back from an 0–3 playoff deficit are currently +1800, which means betting $100 on the Los Angeles to beat Denver in this series would win $1,800.
Taking this pipe dream further, the odds of the Los Angeles Lakers winning the NBA championship are currently +21000, which means betting $100 on the Lakers to win their 18th NBA championship would win $21,000.

While the Nuggets dominated the Lakers during their 11-game win streak, every game has been close and contested with the Lakers building first half leads but the Nuggets executing and closing out better to win the games.
The Nuggets obviously had the Lakers number during the 11-game stretch and took full advantage of their superior size and years of continuity to bully and punish the Lakers smaller lineups and unfamiliar players.

But that pattern may no longer hold now that the Los Angeles Lakers have figured out how to hold onto their first half leads and counter the Denver Nuggets’ second half pushes that cost them the series’ first three games.
With newfound confidence in their role players and no Denver monkey on their back, the Lakers have a unique opportunity to beat the champs three straight, including two in Denver, and turn the tables of embarrassment.

The Lakers surprisingly find themselves in a perfect scenario where they can turn a potential 4-game first round sweep into a historic odds-defying first-time-ever comeback from being down 0–3 in a 7-game playoff series.

How Has Lakers’ Win Changed Series?

Can one game turn around a series? The Lakers 11-game losing streak to the Nuggets may have been the Trojan Horse the Nuggets quietly worried about as ball bounces and big shots kept impossibly falling Denver’s way.

The Lakers’ Game 4 triumph over the Nuggets was not just LeBron James and Los Angeles winning a token single game before accepting their 4–1 ‘Gentlemen’s Sweep’ and making their upcoming reservations for Cancun.
The Game 4 win was the Lakers finally breaking through and doing the one thing that been their Achilles heel during the 11 straight losses they had suffered against the Nuggets: their inability to adjust and keep a lead.

The driving theme of every Lakers-Nuggets game this season has been the Lakers’ failure to hold onto double digit leads in the second halves and fourth quarters of games with the blame justly going on L.A.’s role players.
Game after game, the same story unfolded. Although every game was close and the pattern similar with the Lakers taking a lead and Denver coming back, the streak got crazy as the Nuggets were blessed and Lakers cursed.

That’s why Denver stopped talking about the winning streak and why they should be worried about how Game 4 started and ended. The Lakers again again got off to strong start but also learned how to hang onto the lead.
The Lakers have a solid formula to beat the Nuggets and, until Game 4, it’s been more their inability to execute that formula in second halves that’s hurt them than anything Denver has or can do defensively to stop them.

Denver is in a tough spot. They’re suddenly getting outplayed by the Lakers and the basketball gods are starting to want pay back for the ball bounces and big shots that led to that 11-game win streak. Lakers will win it in 7.

Who Needs To Step Up for Lakers?

The Los Angeles Lakers need LeBron James, Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves to have elite Games 5, 6, and 7 to come back and beat the Denver Nuggets in 7 games and continue the quest for #18.

That’s a big ask vs. Denver considering James age, Davis’ injury proclivity, Russell’s and Reave’s inconsistency but that’s what it will take to beat the world champs three times in a row, including twice in Mile High Denver.
On the other hand, that’s what it’s going to take to come back from down 0–3 against the world champion Nuggets. Come hell or high water, this is LeBron James glory story to write on his eternal campaign to be GOAT.

LeBron is wishing this into existence. What better way to crown his reign as GOAT than take down the world champs 4–3 in a reverse 4-game sweep on his way towards winning his 5th NBA championship and Finals MVP.
Time to cash in on all those bad calls and crazy bounces and hail Mary shots that benefited the Nuggets during that 11-game losing streak and see some ball bounces and big shots coming the Lakers way next 3 games.

The Lakers are outshooting the Nuggets from the field (49.9% to 46.0%), from deep (30.4%to 27.6%), and winning points-in-the-paint (58.5 to 57.5) but losing rebounding (46.3 to 40.50) and made-free-throws (15.0 to 13.5).
Offensively, the Lakers have 109.2 offensive rating, 112.7 defensive rating, and -3.5 net rating for the 4 playoff games. For Game 4, the Lakers posted an elite 115.5 offensive rating, 105.9 defensive rating, and +9.7 net rating.

The Lakers need to come out and play their best basketball game of the year on Monday night and turn the tables on the Denver Nuggets. L.A. has the momentum and the opportunity to pull off a miraculous comeback.

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Lakers fanatic since 1971 when team traded for Wilt Chamberlain. Founder, editor, and publisher of Lakerholics.com, a community for smart informed Lakers fans.