SANTA MONICA, Calif. — On the doorstep of reaching their first ever NBA Finals, the Denver Nuggets say they must do something Monday that has never been done before.
No team has been able to sweep LeBron James in a playoff series before the NBA Finals and the Nuggets themselves have never completed a sweep in franchise history.
James has been swept only twice before, with both times coming in the NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers: to the San Antonio Spurs in 2007 and to the Golden State Warriors in 2018.
“I mean, s— that’s LeBron man,” Nuggets veteran forward Jeff Green said Sunday after the Nuggets met and watched film at their team hotel. “He’s done some amazing things throughout these last 20 years. For me, we have to end it.
“It’s like you can’t continue to give him life. The more life you give him, the more confidence he gains and the more confidence he instills in his teammates. So for me, it has to end [Monday].”
Guard Bruce Brown echoed the same sentiment, saying the Nuggets must be focused on slamming the door shut on the Lakers.
“We want to give them no hope,” Brown said. “No confidence.”
The Lakers went through practice Sunday hoping it is not the final time they practice as a team this season. They’re motivated to avoid being swept.
“It’s a very real thing,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said of the Lakers being fueled to avoid a 4-0 finish to their season. “It’s a very real thing. It’s a prideful group, again, highly competitive that cares and that wants to go and put on a good show for our fans as well.
“Our fans, Lakers Nation, they support the hell out of us and we got to do our part. We got to go out there and show up and show out.”
Teams that have fallen behind 0-3 in a series are 0-149 all-time. The Nuggets, though, know this will be the hardest closeout game the franchise has ever played in its history because of what is at stake.
Not long after the Nuggets took a commanding 3-0 lead with their 119-108 win in Game 3 on Saturday, Nikola Jokic talked about the apprehension he was feeling knowing that Denver is going for the knockout punch with an all-time great fighting to keep his team’s season alive.
“I’m not going to say that I’m scared,” Jokic said. “But I’m worried because they have LeBron on the other side and he is capable of doing everything.”
Ham says the Lakers can only focus on staying alive Monday night.
“We’re facing a hell of a ballclub, one talented bunch that’s very well coached,” Ham said. “But we have things that we can do as well. The only thing we have to do is just focus on one game. We don’t have to be overwhelmed about the outside noise or the overall series. We just have to worry about one game, what’s exactly in front of us.”
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this story.