The Denver Nuggets have established themselves as one of the best teams in the NBA after upsetting the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals. While they're underdogs in the conference finals against the Lakers, L.A. players aren't taking the Nuggets lightly.
Speaking in his media availability after practice on Thursday, LeBron James spoke about Denver's resiliency throughout the playoffs, among other things, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin.
"Very resilient, very confident, very driven, very well-coached team," James said. "It takes a lot of energy, effort, a lot of desperation to be able to come back from a 3-1 deficit. They did it twice. So the respect level is out of this world for what we have for this ballclub. That's how we're going into this series: understanding what they're capable of, where they stand."
Teams have only come back from a 3-1 series deficit just 13 times in NBA history, and the third-seeded Nuggets are responsible for two of them. Denver defeated the Utah Jazz in the first round before shocking the Clippers in the semifinals.
The last time a team overcame a 3-1 deficit to win a series was James' own Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 Finals against the Golden State Warriors. No team had ever done it twice in one postseason until the Nuggets.
While Denver's success could be attributed to hard work and determination, James credits head coach Michael Malone, who was an assistant in Cleveland during the 35-year-old's first stint with the Cavaliers.
It won't be easy for Malone's Nuggets to defeat the Lakers -- Denver beat L.A. just once during the regular season. However, three of their four meetings this season ended up being fairly close, with one game going to overtime.
Even if the Nuggets don't move on to the NBA Finals, their 2020 postseason will go down as one of the most impressive in league history. Game 1 between the two sides is set for Friday night at 9 p.m. ET.