The Denver Nuggets have advanced to the 2023 NBA Finals, toppling the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. As the No. 1 seed in the West for most of the regular season, Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and company carved their way through the first three rounds of the postseason and are now four wins away from hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
This is a historic breakthrough for the Nuggets as this will be their first trip to the NBA Finals in franchise history. They’ve also finally gotten past a Laker franchise that have denied them the opportunity to reach the championship round on multiple occasions.
Denver has had a handful of close calls since joining the league in 1976 as part of the ABA-NBA merger, making the Western Conference Finals just four times prior to this year. In 1978, the David Thompson-led squad fell to the Seattle SuperSonics in six games. In 1985, the Alex English-led Nuggets would lose the WCF in five games to Magic Johnson and the eventual NBA champions Lakers. The franchise would not make the WCF again until 2009, where Carmelo Anthony’s group lost to Kobe Bryant and his eventual NBA champion Lakers squad in six games. And in 2020 during the bubble playoffs, Jokic, Murray, and the Nuggets lost to LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ eventual NBA champion Lakers squad in five games.