For the first time in the 2020 NBA Playoffs, the Denver Nuggets have found themselves down, 0-2, in the Western Conference Finals against the LA Lakers.
The Nuggets showcased their never-say-die spirit by coming back from a 16-point deficit and taking a 103-102 lead with 2.1 seconds in the game. Unfortunately, Anthony Davis channeled the Mamba in him and drained a game winning shot, 105-102, to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
Denver have proved themselves as one of the best teams in recent memory as they made history in the first two rounds of the playoffs by becoming the only team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the playoffs twice, beating the Utah Jazz and then the LA Clippers.
The common factor in those two series is that the Nuggets were able to get Game 2 of the series, which gave them confidence that they can win if they were execute on both ends of the floor.
However, in this WCF series against the best basketball team in Los Angeles, they’re yet to take a win against the LeBron James-Davis led squad.
Sure, some people are already counting out Denver or maybe some of their fans are already panicking but for coach Mike Malone, they just have the same mindset heading into Game 3.
“We’re down in the series and we got to win Game 3. That’s been the mindset in the first round and the second round and it’s the same situation here. Whether you’re down 3-1 or 2-0. Obliviously, next game is the big one for us,” he stated.
Unlike Game 1, where Denver received a, 126-114, beatdown, Game 2 was a lot closer. Despite being down by 16-points at one point, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray kept their team alive and fighting.
Compared to Game 1, Denver did a better job on not allowing the Lakers to have easy look shots, holding them to only 44.6% shooting at the field and 36.1% from the three-point line compared to 53% shooting at the field and 42.3% from the three in Game 1. Meaning the Nuggets’ defense will dictate their chances of winning.
Jokic and Murray finally got their rhythm as both men led their team. Jokic had 30 points, six rebounds and nine assists with four steals while Murray finished with 25 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. Rookie Michael Porter Jr stepped and contributed 15 points off the bench.
It’s not yet time for Denver to panic as they have shown in Game 2 that they can hang with Los Angeles but it is certainly a must win for them in Game 3 because being down 3-0 against a team like the Lakers will surely mean the series is over.