Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets tips off Tuesday at 9 pm Eastern. The Lakers lead the series 2-0 and will look to take a commanding 3-0 advantage.
The Nuggets are used to battling from behind this postseason, but a 3-0 series deficit against the Lakers might be too much to overcome. Game 3 is a must-win game for Denver.
Los Angeles Eyeing Finals
Many fans were hoping for the Los Angeles teams to battle in the Western Conference finals, but Denver spoiled that chance by eliminating the Clippers in seven games. Now, the Lakers are up 2-0 on the Nuggets, and the Finals are in sight.
Anthony Davis has been key to the Lakers’ success, especially in this series. Davis averaged 34 points in the first two games and ended Game 2 on a buzzer-beater.
LeBron James has been his usual dominant self. Not only is he putting up great numbers, but also he is involving other players in the offense. One of the things he does best is getting role players to shine, and that depth makes the Lakers hard to beat.
In Game 2, Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope both scored 11 points, with Kyle Kuzma adding another eight points off the bench.
Nuggets Try to Battle Back
Denver had to battle back in both of their series against the Jazz and Clippers. Playing while trailing in a series is nothing new to them. The Nuggets have been a dangerous team with their backs against the wall.
“Some guys like to win, some guys hate to lose,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said. “One thing I know about our group: Even though we are disappointed, frustrated, angry, we’ll use that motivation to come out and try to take Game 3.”
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have continued to impress this series but need to elevate their game to beat this Lakers team. Jokic is averaging 25.5 points through the first two Conference Finals games and is instrumental to the Nuggets’ success.
All eyes were on Murray after two 50-point games in the series against the Jazz. Since then, he has played well but needs to find that heroic level of play for the Nuggets to come back. When he gets hot, Malone has to find a way to get the ball in his hands.
Another boost for the Nuggets this postseason has been Michael Porter Jr. He came off the bench in Game 2 and dropped 15 points on 6-9 shooting.
Game 3 Prediction
The Lakers are six-and-a-half point favorites in Game 2. If they win this game, there is a good chance for a sweep.
Denver thrives under pressure, so I like them to battle back in this game. The Nuggets have proven they can play well when needing a win. Murray and Jokic will perform well enough to keep this one close and take Game 3.
The moneyline for the Nuggets is +220, which might not be a bad option. I believe Denver has a great chance to win this one to take this series to 2-1.