Ohm YoungmisukESPN staff writerMay 15, 2023, 07:50 PM ETRead 3 minutes

DENVER – Nikola Jokic, with a new haircut on Monday, will enter the Western Conference Finals with a fresh mindset.

Although this will be the Denver Nuggets’ second conference finals appearance since 2020 against the Los Angeles Lakers, Jokic said it will be a new experience on a new team. Which is a good thing, because when asked what he learned from the Nuggets’ five-game losing streak to LeBron James and the Lakers in the bubble, Jokic said, “Honestly, nothing. I don’t remember.”

Jokic certainly doesn’t understand these Lakers. After these teams met last January 9, the Lakers moved on from Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Thomas Bryant and Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, Jared Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, Mo Bamba and Tristan Thompson.

In the year Of the title team in 2020, only James and Anthony Davis remain.

“We haven’t played against a Laker like this. [team]Jokic said: “So this is basically going to be a new team for us. Maybe everything is new, everything is different.

“They’re playing amazing in these playoffs. From here on out [the trade] Last day, they are playing well. “

Jokic spoke highly of his big man counterpart, Davis. This will be Jokic’s biggest challenge of the postseason after facing Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert in the first round and Phoenix’s DeAndre Eiton in the second.

“AD is a guard in a 7-foot-2 body,” Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon said. “He can handle the ball well and draw shots, so you’ve got to be conscious with your hands. He can shoot it up the middle, fade over both shoulders, it’s just a package of skills to be that big.”

Of course, the Lakers will have to contend with Jokic, who has added two MVP trophies since seeing him in the Western Conference Finals.

Jokic enters this matchup with three triples in his last four games against the Suns. He shot 59.4% from the field and averaged 34.5 points, 13.2 rebounds and 10.3 assists against Phoenix.

Denver coach Michael Malone says Jokic has always been such a great presence on the court, but he’s matured in the years since the bubble popped.

“Nicola was the definition of greatness to me for a while,” Malone said. “The consistency with which he plays, the level with which he plays, you are surprised at times. [But] It has changed. He’s married, he’s a father, he’s an adult.

“I’m sure the game has continued to slow down for him. But he’s been very good in the bubble. Jamal [Murray] He was great in the bubble and Nicolas is still doing things that very few people in NBA history have done. The series that just came out against Phoenix was an amazing triple average.

Jokic hopes the Lakers will see a different Nuggets team in this Western Conference finals rematch. While still having Murray and Michael Porter Jr., Jokic’s new-look team now boasts veterans like Gordon, former Laker Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Bruce Brown and Jeff Green.

“We have more experience,” Jokic said of the current team. “We’ve been there before. Maybe we’re a little older, maybe we’re not focused. [but playing in] Different areas [than the bubble]. So I think we have experience playing together.

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