LeBron James believes Lakers-Nuggets has been given ‘too much emphasis’ as rematch

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The Lakers have improved greatly during the second half of the season and are playing in a fearless mode against anyone who stands in front of them. However, for the past couple of campaigns, they’ve had one stone in their shoes they simply haven’t been able to shake off, and that’s every time they’ve clashed against the Nuggets

Not only did Denver sweep the purple and gold in last year’s Western Conference Finals, but also they’ve lost their last eight consecutive games against the reigning NBA champions. LeBron James hopes the press will stop portraying this matchup as a rematch, as he simply wants to concentrate on the present.

“I think you’re putting a little bit too much emphasis on it,” he said after Thursday’s training session. “This is our first-round matchup. I mean, we’re looking forward to the postseason. But I haven’t been, like, looking forward to the rematch. The game is played how it’s being played, and this is the matchup. So we’re looking forward to that challenge.”

The thing is, thinking about their past contests against the Nuggets only brings out the Los Angeles team’s frustrations. “It shouldn’t be personal at all,” the veteran assured. “I think you allow yourself to get away from the game plan when you make it too personal. We have a game plan. You go out there and execute it and you live with the results.

“I’m kind of the last person you should [ask that] — I just stay even-keeled. I’ve been in the postseason way too long in my career to know that you don’t get too high off of Game 1 or get too high over whoever the matchup is. You got to just stay even-keeled.”

LeBron is convinced that his squad must concentrate on committing the least amount of mistakes possible, as a couple possessions a game could swing the results in their favor. “We just got to be better all around,” he kept at it. “Obviously, it’s a great team that we’re playing against. A team that won the championship, so they’ve been in a lot of big games and know what they want to get to late in games.

“So we just have to be very disciplined and have our mind into throughout the course of 48 minutes or however long it takes. It’s going to be challenging but that’s what the postseason is all about. It should be.”

One Lakers player who should be looking for a personal redemption against the Nuggets is D’Angelo Russell

When Denver swept the L.A. squad in last year’s Western Conference Finals, most fans and experts pointed their fingers at D’Angelo Russell, who played poorly with averages of 6.3 points per match during that series. When asked about their first-round challenge, the guard said he doesn’t view his rivals any different than any other team.

“The same as it was against New Orleans,” the 28-year-old said. “Same s—. There’s no extra preparation for me. Been preparing all year for whoever we would see in the postseason. Obviously, y’all make it a Denver-D-Lo thing, but I’m ready to compete.”

His coach Darvin Ham expressed his confidence in Russell, who was one of the best purple and gold players in their last game against New Orleans. The point guard dropped 19 points with 5 three-pointers to his name as they secured the No. 7 seed this week.

“D-Lo is in an incredible space,” the Lakers tactician guaranteed, and gave no room for questioning his player’s confidence. “He’s kicking ass for us and we expect him to do the same [against Denver].”