Game Four Preview: Lakers aim to avoid tied series after game three loss

Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) shoots between Denver Nuggets’ PJ Dozier, left, and Nikola Jokic (15) during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Lakers won 105-103. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Los Angeles Lakers hit the gas late in game three before succumbing to the Nuggets 114-106. Denver went up by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter before the Lakers went on a 19-2 run to close the gap. A missed three from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope nearly tied the game, but the Nuggets weathered the storm.

Losing On The Boards

The Lakers get a lot of love for their size and athleticism, but don’t tell that to the Nuggets. In game three, they kept the Lakers from using their biggest advantage on the boards. Denver out-rebounded the Lakers 44-25, their lowest rebound total of the entire playoffs. Anthony Davis only hauled in two rebounds on the night. If they are unable to get to the ball, there will be chance to get out in transition and no second-chance points. The Lakers also had a playoff-low of four offensive rebounds.

Defense Wins Championships

Outside of defensive rebounding, the Lakers also have to flat-out defend better. The Nuggets shot a scorching 37.9 percent from behind the arc. They also added 54.8 percent from the field. The surprising trio of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Jerami Grant combined for 76 points. Contributions by the Nuggets role players like Grant is bad news for a Lakers squad who are searching for more out of their complementary guys.

Back To Old Reliable?

The Lakers have been flexible with their lineups from round to round at the center position. They’ve cycled through JaVale McGee, Markieff Morris, and Dwight Howard. I would not be surprised if the Lakers went back to the lineup that included Morris in the frontcourt with LeBron and AD. Adding him in allows for more space and gives AD a chance to use his outside ability if defended by Jokic or Milsap. Morris also adds some scoring punch as he’s been a reliable shooter this postseason at 45.7 percent shooting from three. If he’s going to be inserted, he will have hit the boards and defend to back his shooting.

Tip-off is scheduled for 9PM EST/6 PM PST.

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