Can Denver humble LeBron James and AD the way it did Kawhi Leonard?

Lest we forget, they dropped the last Game 1 to the Clippers by 23. So maybe the Nuggets are angling to go 2-for-2 on the ol’ rope-a-dope trick. Fool me once …

“Obviously, it’s the first game, we’re not going to overreact,” said Denver guard Jamal Murray, whose humbled squad head into Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday looking to even the best-of-seven series with the Los Angeles Lakers at one win apiece. “We’ve just got to be better.

“The first half really didn’t go our way … but yeah, we’ll just come back and be better. And try to be more physical, try to hit them early, try to get on a run and push (things) in our favor.”

If there’s hope for the second installment of the series, it’s the light years that the Nuggets jumped between Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference semis against the Lakers’ unfriendly neighbors, the Los Angeles Clippers. And the similarities that appeared to stain both series openers.

Different teams. Same L.A. story. Clippers/Lakers couldn’t miss from beyond the arc. Clippers/Lakers used a massive second-quarter surge to run away with the game. Clippers/Lakers forced the Nuggets into more than a dozen turnovers, then turned those miscues into easy buckets the other way.

“Look, at this point, Western Conference Finals, you have to be the tougher team,” noted Nuggets center Mason Plumlee after he netted nine points over 21 minutes in Game 1. “It’s not even about matching (the Lakers’ levels). We just have to mentally, physically have a presence and rise to the moment.”

Mentally and physically, they’ve been here before. And they wouldn’t be rocking the NBA bubble for this long if they didn’t know how to bounce back from a swift kick to the ego. In the opener of the Western semis, Murray had tired legs from the Utah series, a condition exacerbated by Doc Rivers’ backcourt defensive trio of Patrick Beverley, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

After a day to recalibrate, the Nuggets countered in the second game of the series thanks to stellar defensive mojo, 27 from Murray and a double-double from center Nikola Jokic (26 points, 18 boards), leading wire-to-wire in a 110-101 victory.

Can history repeat itself? The Lakers have every bit Clippers’ swagger but also offer more size — and athleticism — in the paint to back it up.

Rivers’ gambit to counter the Joker started with 7-foot Ivica Zubac, who lacked the foot speed and lateral quickness to close the Nuggets center down on jumpers or contest the Serbian’s unorthodox drives to the paint without fouling. Plan B was to go smaller and more athletic.

The Lakers, by contrast, start big and stay big. Anthony Davis, at 6-10, is a stretch 4/5 who can guard almost any position on the floor. Los Angeles started JaVale McGee at center, and the Joker’s comfort level with the 7-footer wasn’t all that dissimilar to the levels he’d flashed against Zubac.

Enter Dwight Howard. And exit the good vibes.

The former three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, who still cuts an imposing figure at age 34, went medieval on the Nuggets’ best player, blocking two shots and collecting two steals while helping limit Jokic to 10 points in Game 1 over the contest’s final three quarters.

“They are really good shot blockers,” noted the Joker, who finished with a comparatively quite 21 points and six boards Friday. “They are attacking us off of the rebound. We just need to match that.”

And quickly. Because for all these cool rewrites of history, all those Game 7s, the Nuggets also have yet to trail a series 2-0 during these last two years of playoff runs under coach Michael Malone. Denver has only won one series as a franchise in which it dropped the first two tilts — that epic 3-2 upset of top-seeded Seattle in the first round of the 1994 NBA Playoffs.

“I don’t even think we’re thinking of it as a marathon,” Plumlee said. “(The) big game is Game 2. You just take each game as an opportunity. So that’s what most important, is Game 2.”