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NEWS NOW: the Nuggets promise to root down Lakers this playoff again

The Denver Nuggets will find out their Round 1 opponent later tonight, and here’s hoping it’s the Los Angeles Lakers.

Sure, many folks around town have suggested it’d be better to play the New Orleans Pelicans when the series starts on Saturday at Ball Arena, but that’s the wrong way to look at it.

The Pelicans are just 4-5 in their last nine games and limp in the playoffs, blowing a chance to be the No. 6 seed and take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in Round 1. They lost at home to the Lakers on Sunday, and now have to battle again in a rematch in the first game of the NBA play-in tournament. The winner will be the No. 7 seed and get Denver.

Whatever.

Bring on the Lakers, again.

The Nuggets famously swept them in the Western Conference Finals a season ago, as Nikola Jokic hit ridiculous shots and sent the Lakers home perplexed. Then, for an encore this year, Denver beat L.A. on opening night and won their other two contests against them. It’s safe to say Jokic and his teammates are in the Lakers head.

Growing up in this great city, I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime. The Nuggets own the Lakers. They’ve won eight in a row against a team that gave our town nightmares.

The 2009 Western Conference Finals are still fresh, but the wound has healed thanks to the sweep last year and winning an NBA title. Denver was better than Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol that year, but couldn’t do something as simple as get the ball inbounds in two of the four losses. Los Angeles prevailed in six, and then Carmelo Anthony pouted his way out of town.

But sports are a funny thing, and an even better No. 15 came to Denver. Jokic was drafted during a Taco Bell commercial and the rest is history. He’s absolutely the third greatest athlete the Mile High City has ever seen, and closing the gap on John Elway and Joe Sakic every day. You think Jokic is scared of the Lakers? Heck no.

It’d be awful sweet to send them to the beach again, for a second time in two seasons. It’ll be curious to see if Anthony Davis and LeBron James give it their all against the Pelicans, or deep down they’d rather face the No. 1 seed Thunder as the No. 8 seed. Oklahoma City is very good, but they’re also very young.

Still, “throwing” the game against New Orleans is a gutsy strategy. If the Lakers lose and then fall to Golden State or Sacramento, their season is over before even playing a real playoff series. You can’t mess with the basketball gods like that.

It’ll be a weird feeling rooting for the Lakers later tonight, but that should be how Nuggets fans lean. They’re not beating Denver four times in seven games, so let’s play them again. Watching L.A. fans meltdown on social media will be worth it over the next couple of weeks.

And if Denver is going back-to-back, what better way to start the journey than against the Lakers? Round 1 series are usually rather mundane for title contenders, but this one would have some juice. That’s not to say the Nuggets won’t roll, they will, but it’ll be the talk of the sports world.

When you’re really good, you know it. And the Nuggets know that. There’d be nothing cooler than sending James home again and “contemplating retirement,” when we all know he’s not actually retiring.

Playing the Pelicans wouldn’t be boring, but it’d be Denver in five games without a lot of fanfare. Beating the Lakers would give this squad the spark they need as they pursue another 16 playoff wins.

It might be the only time you ever seen this sentiment, but oh well: Go Lakers.

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