Tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers will look to take a commanding 3-0 series lead against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. This series could have easily been a lot more exciting at this stage; Anthony Davis made a buzzer-beating three to win the game on Sunday night. The Lakers would have lost the game by one if he had missed, with the momentum all on Denver’s side as they outplayed the Lakers in the second half of Game 2. Now, Game 3 is a must-win for the Nuggets as no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the NBA Playoffs.
Nuggets look for help on offense
Jamal Murray still hasn’t had one of his “on fire” moments that he has had at many times throughout these playoffs, but he played efficiently in Game 1 and definitely had his moments in Game 2 ending with 25 points. Nikola Jokic has had a pretty good series, but was astounding in Game 2, especially in the final few minutes of the 4th quarter. He ended the game with 30 points. Even Michael Porter Jr. has penciled himself in as the Nuggets’ “third guy”, averaging 14.5 points per game in this series.
Those three players combined for 80 points in Game 2 and the Nuggets still lost. They’re going to have to get more contribution from somewhere if they’re to make a comeback in this series. The Nuggets’ three other starters — Jerami Grant, Gary Harris, and Paul Millsap — have combined for 35 points. No, not in Game 2. Those three have combined for 35 points in games one and two COMBINED. No other player on the roster has scored double-digits in the two games other than Murray, Jokic, and Porter Jr.
We’ll see if someone steps up, or if head coach Michael Malone calls someone’s number who hasn’t really played a lot in this series. He could go to the young Keita Bates-Diop, the enigmatic fan-favorite Bol Bol, or even former Laker Troy “Trey” Daniels. Either way, the Nuggets will need a “fourth guy” to overcome this Lakers defense.
LeBron James looks to re-assert himself
If Anthony Davis didn’t hit the game-winning shot on Sunday night, the national media at-large would be having a much different conversation during the classic Monday morning talk shows. That conversation would have been centered on LeBron James, as it usually is, and his poor second half in Game 2. In that second-half, he only had six points after scoring 20 points in the first half. He only made two of his nine field-goal attempts in the half with four turnovers including a charge with 4:26 remaining in the game when the score was 97-92.
LeBron had his passing game going in Game 1, ending with 12 assists but only 15 points on an efficient 6-of-11 from the field. He doesn’t usually have three average (average for LeBron’s standard) playoff games in a row, so look for him to possibly go off in this Game 3 to seal the deal.
Lakers. Nuggets. Game 3. Tip-off at 6:00 p.m. PST on TNT.