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Shaq Foresees First-Round NBA Playoff Upset

Shaq Foresees First-Round NBA Playoff Upset

Playoff tensions soar with fiery exchanges between NBA teams.

by Nouman Rasool
Shaq Foresees First-Round NBA Playoff Upset
© Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images

In a bold declaration on TNT's "Inside the NBA," Shaquille O'Neal, the legendary former center, picked the Los Angeles Lakers to pull off a major upset against the reigning NBA champions, the Denver Nuggets, in the upcoming first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Known for his forthright opinions, O'Neal confidently backed his former team, predicting a shakeup in the playoff landscape. The Lakers have recently struggled against the Nuggets, losing eight consecutive games, including a pivotal series in last year’s Western Conference Finals.

Despite these setbacks, O'Neal’s endorsement comes at a time when the Nuggets appear stronger than ever. After clinching the championship last season, Denver has enhanced their performance across the board. This season, they boast a superior record of 57-25 compared to last year’s 53-29, alongside improvements in offensive rating (117.8 up from 116.8), defensive rating (down to 112.3 from 113.5), and net rating (5.5 from 3.3).

Intensified Lakers-Nuggets Rivalry

The rivalry between the Lakers and Nuggets has intensified, particularly following comments from Nuggets coach Michael Malone, who provocatively dubbed himself "the Lakers' daddy" during the championship celebrations.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham retorted with a defiant "This s--- ain’t over," signaling a brewing storm as the playoffs approach. Additionally, Lakers star Anthony Davis emphasized the team's desire to exact revenge during the Lakers’ preseason media day, noting a personal conversation with LeBron James about their eagerness to face the Nuggets again.

With the stage set for a dramatic showdown, the Lakers are not just looking to overturn recent history but are also fueled by a narrative of redemption and rivalry. As the teams prepare to face off, the anticipation builds, with Denver favored to win the opening game by 7.5 points and to take the series at -350.

However, the Lakers’ determination and the historical prowess of players like Davis and James could very well turn the tables. The clash kicks off with Game 1 on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET in Denver, promising not only a spectacle of top-tier basketball but also a test of resilience and strategy.

Will the Lakers validate Shaq’s confidence, or will the Nuggets continue their dominance? Only the hardwood will tell.