It will be no easy task, but a win over their conference foe will bring the Lakers to an overall record to 29-29, improve their winning streak to four games, and most importantly a win will close the gap for the eighth seed in the playoffs.
The Lakers need this win to stay competitive in the Western Conference.
Evening their overall record is huge deal for the Lakers, who have spent a majority of the season with a losing record. A victory over the Nuggets will boost the team’s confidence, which has been in short supply this season.
The Lakers have lost their swagger this year. Maybe it’s the age of the team and injuries to key players (Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol) that is holding them back from reaching full potential, but there has been intensity missing this year.
Remember the teams that won back-to-back championships in 2008 and 2009?
Those Lakers teams had a high level of confidence, which played a huge role in those NBA Finals, especially the seven-game classic against Boston for the 2009 championship.
We’ve seen flashes of that swagger earlier this season, nothing ever more than that. Recently, however, it has been Bryant, who has put the team on his back and led the recent Lakers’ surge.
In his last two games, Bryant is averaging 39 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game.
With a win, the Lakers can prove that they are back in the playoff picture, after they seemingly became a punchline in the NBA.
Denver is currently fifth in the conference with a record of 35-22, seven games ahead of Los Angeles. If the Lakers win, they make the bottom of the conference more competitive.
The loss would drop the Nuggets closer to the bottom of the conference, which isn’t a good place to be, considering the bottom three teams are separated by three games.
Winning will also split the season series with the Nuggets, forcing tiebreakers to come into effect, should the Lakers qualify for the NBA Playoffs.
Playoff contention is not an outlandish idea, as Los Angeles is only 2.5 games out of playoff contention and will be breathing down Houston’s neck with a victory.
Monday will be a huge opportunity for the Lakers to showcase their full potential against a team that is currently qualified for the playoffs.