The Denver Nuggets are a loss away from putting themselves in a very familiar scenario.
But they certainly don’t want to be down 3-1 to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, who will look to avoid back-to-back losses when they meet Denver in Game 4 on September 25 at 9 AM, Manila time.
HOME TEAM: #3 Denver Nuggets (1-2)
Here come the Nuggets!
Momentum is now on the side of Denver after scoring a 114-106 win in Game 3, thus ensuring they won’t get blanked in this series.
But the Nuggets didn’t get this far only to win just one game. If Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic could sustain their hot offense and get ample help from the other guys, then Denver could tie this all up on Friday.
In Game 3, Murray scored 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting. No one could contain Murray, especially down the stretch where he repeatedly stabbed the Lakers with one deflating basket after another. Jokic ad 22 points and 10 rebounds.
But the deciding factor for Denver was Jerami Grant, who played like he bet the farm on his team. Grant ended up with 26 points with 10-of-12 shooting line form the charity stripe.
That being said, Grant can’t be expected to be as productive on offense two games in a row, so the real pressure to deliver among the rest of the supporting cast like of Gary Harris and Paul Millsap.
Harris averaged 10.7 points and shot 50 FG% and 41.9 3FG% in the second round against the LA Clippers, but is now averaging just 5.0 points (27.8 FG%,33.3 3FG%) through three games in the conference finals.
ROAD TEAM: #1 Los Angeles Lakers (2-1)
The Lakers saw their six-game unbeaten streak get snapped by Denver in Game 3, but that shouldn’t be much of an issue for the team.
The Lakers can’t afford for Anthony Davis to be a nonfactor in the rebounding department again. Davis scored 27 points in Game 3 but hauled down just two rebounds.
However, that can be dismissed as nothing more than a statitstical anomaly, considering that he is averaging 10.0 rebounds per game in the playoffs. He should be able to get back to his old dominant way on the glass in Game 4.
The Lakers will also look to shoot better from the outside, as they hit just six of their 26 3-point shots in the loss to Denver.
Davis went 0-of-4 on his threes, while Rajon Rondo, who won’t be inducted into Hall of Fame because of his 3-point shooting, was 0-of-3. Look for the Lakers to continue challenging Denver’s interior defense whether they find their stroke from deep or not, as they heavily outscored the Nuggets in the paint in Game 3, 64-48.
The Lakers will not be victimized by a sudden explosion from Jerami Grant in Game 4, as they control the game from beginning to end and score a 117-111 win.