For the second consecutive postseason, the Los Angeles Lakers will be tasked with dealing with two-time league MVP Nikola Jokic and his Denver Nuggets. But as the Lakers prepare to face the defending NBA champions, this time in the 1st round as opposed to the Western Conference Finals, they know all too well that The Joker isn't the only Nugget they need to keep tabs on.

Point guard Jamal Murray is the well-established “2” within the 1-2 punch that makes the Denver Nuggets as successful as they have been for the last half of a decade. And just like his big Serbian teammate, Murray has proven to be a dynamic and at times downright dominant postseason performer. Murray is a 17.5 point per game scorer in 469 regular season games in his career, but his numbers in the postseason are noticeably better. On 47-40-91 shooting splits, Murray is averaging 25 points per game in 53 career NBA Playoff games, meaning the Lakers have just as much work to do in stopping Jamal Murray as they do making life difficult for Nikola Jokic.

At shootaround on Friday afternoon, Lakers guard Austin Reaves discussed the challenge of handling both Jokic and Murray in the postseason, conceding that there is no great answer for the league's most devastating pick-and-roll.


Last year in the Western Conference Finals, Jamal Murray torched the Lakers, averaging 32.5 points per game on 53-41-95 shooting splits in the Nuggets 4-0 series win. Even more impressive was that Murray led all scorers in a series that featured LeBron James, Anthony Davis and eventual NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokic, who posed just as big, if not even bigger problems for the Lakers as Murray did, finishing the series with averages of 27.8 points, 14.5 rebounds and 11.8 assists.

The Lakers have no great answer for either Murray or Jokic, so as Austin Reaves shared, it's going to require all five defenders making a collective effort to prevent the Jokic/Murray two-man game from slicing the Lakers up and sending them home short of their championship goals for the second straight postseason. Some of this could fall on the shoulders of Reaves, who has the size and competitiveness to at least theoretically make life a little difficult for Murray. But this assignment will at least at times fall on the shoulders of reserve guard Gabe Vincent, who defended Murray with some success in the NBA Finals last year as a member of the Miami Heat.

Just as important for the Lakers success in this series is Austin Reaves' ability to make an impact on the other end of the floor. Interestingly, last year in the Western Conference Finals, Reaves — along with Murray, Jokic, LeBron James and Anthony Davis — was one of five players to average at least 20 points per game in that series. He'll need to be up around that number again to give the Lakers a puncher's chance against the defending NBA champions.