The Los Angeles Lakers are facing a tough test in the NBA Playoffs as they battle the Denver Nuggets in the first round. They are heavy underdogs in the series, and for good reason. After all, Nikola Jokic and Co. swept them in last year's West Finals meeting. For LA legend Magic Johnson, however, the Purple and Gold aren't without a fighting chance.

Of course it won't be an easy battle for the Lakers, and even if they play perfectly, there's no guarantee that they will be able to take down the Nuggets. With that being said, Johnson shared his belief that backcourt play will ultimately decide the winner of the contest.

The five-time Lakers champion explained that in order for Darvin Ham's men to beat Denver, D'Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Gabe Vincent and Spencer Dinwiddie will have to outplay Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Christian Braun.

“For the Lakers to have any chance to beat the Nuggets this time around, the guards have to bring their A-game. Last year, the Nuggets' guard trio of Bruce Brown, KCP, and Jamal Murray were dominant! The Lakers’ key to win will be DLO, Reaves, Vincent, and Dinwiddie outperforming Murray, KCP, and Braun,” Johnson wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Magic Johnson makes a good point, though. Nikola Jokic is a dominant force on the floor, and it will definitely take a lot from Anthony Davis to slow him down. But what makes the Joker much more formidable is his passing ability. He naturally attracts defenders considering how skilled he is, but when he's double teamed or the defense collapses on him, he easily dishes the ball to the open man.

With that being said, the best way to beat the Nuggets might not be preventing Jokic to score but rather limiting what his teammates can do, particularly the guards. As everyone knows, Murray is a lethal scorer and can anchor the Denver offense whenever their Serbian superstar is having an off night. Then there are the reliable Caldwell-Pope and Braun, who are both shooting the ball pretty well and have had their shining moments throughout the regular season.

Sure enough, the Lakers will also have to be wary of the likes of Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon. The two are more than capable of punishing them when given the chance, so the Purple and Gold will have to go all out right from the start to counter the Nuggets' depth.

Lakers vs. Nuggets Game 1 odds

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) looks on against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a play-in game of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Smoothie King Center.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets also swept their season series with the Lakers during the 2023-24 regular season, recording an average winning margin of 10 points. With that being said, Denver has been tallied as -7.5 favorites to win Game 1 of their playoff series.

Not to mention that the Nuggets have homecourt advantage, so LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Co. can't really afford to make any big mistake in their showdown.

If there's any silver lining for the Lakers, it's the fact that they are currently on a roll after winning 17 of their last 25 games–including their Play-In battle with the New Orleans Pelicans. It's also never a good thing to count a team that features LeBron James in it. The 21-year NBA vet has only lost a first-round playoff series once in his career, and that speaks volumes of the winner that he is.

James knows how to win in the playoffs, and as every fan knows, he flips a switch come the postseason.

Game 1 of the Lakers vs. Nuggets NBA Playoffs clash is scheduled on Saturday, April 20th.