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Can Nuggets repeat as NBA champions? Lakers fans certainly think so. “They are terrifying.”

Los Angeles Lakers fan Dakota Taylor, left, talks with his friend Caiden Orosco, a Denver Nuggets fan, as he waits in line to enter the Ball Arena before the Denver Nuggets play the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the NBA playoffs at Ball Arena in Denver on Saturday, April 20, 2024. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Dwayne Wells believesBaby.

He believes his Lakers are in Cherry Creek. Without paddle.

“Even though I’m a Lakers fan, it’s probably going to be Nuggets in six, low-key,” Wells, an Air Force man and LA fanatic from Clovis, NM, told me as we shivered outside Ball Arena an hour before Game 1. from Nuggets Lakers.

“I hate it, dude. (Nikola) Jokic was completely crazy and (expletive) me off last year. And (Jamal) Murray was crazy too. Oh my God. But those two – and Michael Porter Jr. might leave.

“I mean, we might win two. But I just go (to Game 1) for the experience. In my head I already know the outcome.”

This also applies to the oddsmakers. As of Saturday afternoon, the defending NBA champions were still the betting favorite to win the pesky Western Conference (FanDuel: +310, DraftKings.com, +300) by a healthy margin over Oklahoma City (+1300, +1600); Dallas (+1500, +1600); and Minnesota (+1900, +2200). LeBron or no LeBron.

“They’re scary, let’s just put it that way,” Lakers fan Skyler Hertz told me before tipoff on Saturday. “This is certainly the only series I would worry about in the West. I’m not worried about OKC or Minnesota. (The Nuggets) earned the No. 1 spot in the West this year.

Hertz and his wife, Loren, drove all the way from Grant, Iowa, population 83, to our fair city, an hour along a long and lonely highway east of Omaha.

“Because I’ve always been a LeBron fan,” Skyler explained. “I’ll just follow him until he’s done.”

So another year then? Two?

“I think he’s going to do another one,” Hertz replied. “It’s hard. He’s going to do one. But he’ll be calm about it. I don’t think he’s going to make a whole parting deal.”