As expected, LA Lakers are leaders in the Western Conference with 4 defeats less than second placed Denver Nuggets. Tonight they will play against them and will do the right job if they win. The Lakers are probably the best team in the league, LeBron and Antnony Davis are the stars, but there are many other good players who help them. First of all, I'll mention the veterans Howard, McGee, Rondo, Bradley and Green. Caldwell-Pope, Kuzma and Caruso are the others in the rotation, making the Lakers very strong team. I have no idea will they chase Milwaukee or not because the Bucks have only 7 defeats, but matches like this against direct rivals are always special for LeBron and his teammates. The motivation cannot be the same against Denver and Minnesota for example.
Denver Nuggets are currently second, but the Clippers and the Jazz are just behind them, Rockets are also close. They won in Salt Lake City against Utah 6 days ago in a match in which Jokic played the match of the season with dominant performance and a triple double against Rudy Gobert. Thay were without 5 players from the usual rotation, including Millsap, Barton and Jerami Grant. Milssap and Grant returned, while Barton, Porter and Plumlee are still injured. They won the last match with intensity against the Spurs after they were trailing by 23 points in the third quarter. This team has winning DNA, especially when Millsap is in the team.
There are 11 matches tonight before the All-Star break, but the eyes will be in Denver where the best Western teams will clash. The home team has big chemistry within the team, they play good defense, but the Lakers have more quality. Maybe Denver has big guys, but Lakers will surely have an advantage in the rim with Davis, McGee and Howard. Both rosters are big, but Denver has limited rotation because they still have injured players. Barton is very important player, their third scorer, no matter that Craig plays well while Barton is out. The Nuggets only have more accurate shooters and will try to win on that card because there's no other way against the Lakers. They will also be limited in that segment because Barton and Porter are among the most accurate shooters from distance. All in all, I believe that James and his teammates will be extra motivated to show who is who on the West ahead of the All-Star break. These teams met twice so far this season and both teams won away from home. It's important to mention that James missed the match in LA, so this is another motivating factor for the King.