Lakers still not sure if Christian Wood and Jarred Vanderbilt will be back for Nuggets’ series

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After the Los Angeles club lost to the reigning champions in Game 1 of the opening playoff series in the Western Conference, it seemed more than clear that the purple and gold were missing depth and more bench quality during the match. Coach Darvin Ham was asked many times about his injured camp, and if any were expected to return at some point against Denver

Unfortunately, his answer wasn’t optimistic. Christian Wood has been out since February 14 due to pain in his left knee and went through arthroscopic surgery one month ago. So far he’s averaged 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per contest.

Another who has been sidelined due to health issues is Jarred Vanderbilt. “All I’ll say is he’s still going through his recovery process from injury, his rehab process,” Ham said about their potential return. “Obviously, he has size, he has length, he has rebounding capabilities, he can stretch the floor. But first and foremost, he has a couple more boxes to check before we even consider that.”

During Saturday’s 114-103 loss to the Nuggets, only one player came from the Lakers bench and scored. In the team’s two regular-season games against the reigning champs, Wood averaged 5 points on 80% shooting and 4 rebounds.

The opposition’s star Nikola Jokic has continued to dominate the league this campaign, and is currently one of the frontrunners for the MVP award, which he has already earned twice in the past. This is why LeBron James has only dedicated word of admiration for the Serbian international.

“He’s one of the best players to ever play this game,” the 39-year-old expressed when asked about yet another playoff clash against Denver, as they did last year in the Western Conference’s Finals. “It’s that simple.”

“He does everything,” the Lakers superstar said about the versatile big man. “The most important thing is he changes the way his teammates think about their own play. When you’re able to inspire your teammates to play at a level that sometimes they don’t even feel like they can play at, that’s the true testament of a great one.”

Anthony Davis assures fans that the Lakers have a game plan to stop Nikola Jokic during the playoff series

After losing Game 1 against the Nuggets, the Lakers roster is convinced that they have a strategy to stop the reigning champions from sweeping them away from the playoffs once again. According to their coach Darvin Ham, it will take a team effort, and not only Anthony Davis‘ responsibility to take him down.

Nikola (Jokic) is really good at developing a rhythm against whatever defensive scheme is being used against him,” shared the purple and gold tactician. “And it’s only a matter of time before he figures things out. … So you just want to change up your pitches, and sometimes that not only includes coverages but there’s matchups involved in all of that too.”

When asked about the strategy in mind, the Los Angeles center didn’t want to give out any hints to the press or his opponents, so he kept his answers as simple as he could.

“We got a game plan for different scenarios depending on who’s on him — time and score situation,” AD said. “I don’t know if they watch our interviews and stuff, so I’m not going to give too much.”