The LA Lakers are now one win away from reaching the NBA finals for the first time since 2010, when the late great Kobe Bryant gave the purple and gold franchise its 16th NBA banner.
Los Angeles took care of business in Game 4, as they dispatched the resilient Denver Nuggets 114-108 to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.
A lot can be credited for the Lakers success in this series. There’s LeBron James and Rajon Rondo’s veteran, high IQ leadership, there’s Anthony Davis’ Hall of Fame performances this playoffs, Head Coach Frank Vogel’s stellar coaching but a big factor for their success is rebounding.
As a matter of fact, rebounding has been the key for both teams’ success in this series.
From Games 2 – 4, the team that won the rebounding battle won the game. In Game 2, the Lakers outrebounded Denver, 44-31. Game 3 saw the Nuggets bounce back and outhustle the Lakers on the boards, 44-25. And in Game 4, LA took the win in the boards. 41-33.
The only game that had a different outcome despite the losing team winning the rebounding battle is Game 1. Denver had 37 total rebounds while the Lakers only had 33.
Interestingly, for the both teams, it’s not just the bigs that have been controlling the rebounding in this series.
For the Nuggets, star big-man Nikola Jokic only has one double figure rebounding game in this series, that is in Game 3, where he finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. It’s the guys from the perimeter who’s been active on the boards for Denver.
Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr, Torrey Craig and undersized big-man Paul Millsap are all active on the glass in this series.
As for the Lakers, their size advantage has resulted into their success in the battle for the boards. Davis and Dwight Howard have been pretty productive on the board. However, in their Game 3 loss, JaVale McGee, Davis and Howard only combined for four total rebounds.
Aside from Davis and Howard, LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo have been hustling from the perimeter as well to help out with the rebounds.
Rebounding has been a crucial piece in this series. In Game 4, Denver gave up 12 offensive rebounds and the Lakers capitalized on it and had a total of 25 second chance points for the game.
Denver head coach Mike Malone attributed their loss to the second chance points they gave up in this game.
“It was a huge number and it was like that the whole night. 25-6 second point advantage is really hard to overcome,” he said during the post-game interview.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel stated that they made sure to put an effort on the offensive end after having a disappointing performance in Game 3.
“Offensive rebounding is an effort play; we want to put effort on our offense. Running the floor, crashing, driving hard to the paint and our guys did a good job in doing that,” Vogel stated in the post-game interview.