The Los Angeles Lakers look to push the Denver Nuggets to the brink of elimination in Game 3 of the 2020 Western Conference Finals on Tuesday, September 22, 2020, at the AdventHealth Center in Orlando, Florida.
The Lakers picked up a nail-biting 105-103 win over the Nuggets in Game 2 on Sunday. Anthony Davis’ drilled a game-winning three-pointer that put Los Angeles one win from advancing to the NBA Finals. The Nuggets have been the most resilient team in the playoffs. They have stormed back from a pair of 3-1 deficits to be where they are right now. However, if they fall 3-0 here, that’s going to be trouble. No team has ever come back from a 3-1 series deficit to win the series.
After totally dominating the Nuggets in Game 1, the Lakers had trouble putting Denver away in Game 2. The Nuggets fought back each time the Lakers threatened to break away on Sunday and their perseverance nearly paid off as Nikola Jokic’s basket gave them a 103-102 lead with 20.8 seconds left to play. But Anthony Davis ended Denver’s hopes when he sank a buzzer-beating three-pointer that gave the Lakers a 105-103 win.
LeBron James finished the game with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists. However, James had six turnovers and only six points in the second half. Good thing for the Lakers, Anthony Davis got LeBron’s back. Davis scored 31 points including 22 in the second half when his team needed the points most. Rajon Rondo had nine assists in 21 minutes while guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Danny Green each scored 11.
The Lakers shot 44.6% from the floor and 36.1 from the three-point area. They also shot 94.6% from the line in Game 2. Davis leads the Lakers this postseason with 28.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, LeBron James is also putting up 25.6 points, 10.0 rebounds, and a team-high 8.7 assists per game.
The Denver Nuggets were just 2.1 seconds away from equalizing their series against the Lakers. Unlike in Game 1 where they allowed the Lakers to abuse them with their size and physicality, the Nuggets fought back in Game 2 even after Los Angeles took a double-digit lead in the first half. Nikola Jokic’s basket with 20.8 second left gave the Nuggets a 103-102 lead but as we know, AD won the game with his buzzer-beating three-point basket.
Jokic bounced back from a poor effort in Game 1 to score 30 points and issue nine assists on Sunday. Jokic scored 11 points down the stretch for Denver while Jamal Murray added 25 points. Rookie Michael Porter Jr. had another impressive outing with 15 points but was in foul trouble. Mike Malone played with P.J. Dozier down the stretch and he missed out of five free throws awarded.
The Nuggets shot 47.3% from the field on Sunday and they were also 33.3% from behind the three-point area. Denver shot 74.8% from the foul line. Jamal Murray leads the team in scoring at 26.6 points per game while Jokic is putting up a double-double with 25.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in 16 postseason games.
The Lakers are 9-1 SU in their last 10 games played. Los Angeles is 9-1 SU in their last nine games played as the betting favorites. The Nuggets are 6-4 SU in their last 10 games played. Denver is 5-4 SU in their last nine games as the underdogs. Head to head, the Lakers are 6-4 SU in their last 10 games played against the Nuggets. Los Angeles is also 3-0 SU in their last three meetings.
The Lakers have taken a commanding 2-0 lead over the Nuggets and the keys to their success are Anthony Davis and LeBron James. With the best duo in the league-leading them, the Lakers have proven to be the more steady team down the stretch. In Game 1, they blew away the Nuggets but after Denver threatened in Game 2, they relied on AD’s game-winning shot.
Denver won its previous two series after trailing 3-1 in both rounds of the playoffs. Jamal Murray has blossomed into a superstar while Nikola Jokic has been the steady force that has kept this team afloat. The Nuggets will have to play better down the stretch in Game 4 and they will have to find a way to neutralize AD in this series.
I think we’ll see another close game here but just like Game 2, the Lakers should take care of business. Denver has made a living by coming back from two 3-1 deficits but the Lakers are a tough matchup for them with their size and physicality. I like the Nuggets to keep it close but I expect the Lakers to come away with another hard-earned win in Game 3.
Prediction: Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games played. Los Angeles is 4-0 SU in their last four games played on the road. The Nuggets are 7-3 SU in their last 10 games played. Denver is 4-2 ATS in their last six games played on the road. Head to head, the Lakers have covered the spread in two out of their last three meetings. However, they are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games as betting favorites against the Nuggets.
The Nuggets have their backs against the proverbial wall here. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the series so this is a must-win game for Denver. We’ve seen how good this team is when facing adversity. They are 6-0 in six do-or-die playoff games this season. The Lakers have covered well in the postseason but it’s worth noting that they are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games as betting favorites against the Nuggets. I like a team that’s desperate. I still think the Lakers win this game but it will be close, perhaps as close as game 2.
Prediction: Nuggets +6.5
The total has gone under in four out of the last five games played by the Lakers. Los Angeles has seen the total go under in three out of their last four games played on the road. The total has gone over in seven out of the last 10 games played by the Nuggets. The under is 3-2-1 in Denver’s last six road games. Head to head, the over is 5-4-1 in the last 10 meetings between these two teams, including 3-0 in their last three games played.
These teams combined for 208 points in Game 2 but 240 in Game 1. Both teams showed better defense in Game 2 and that resulted in a low-scoring game that went down to the final possession. Los Angeles shot the lights out in Game 1 and that led to a high scoring game but more likely, this one will be a low-scoring game with the Lakers using big men Dwight Howard and Javale McGee more often to defend Jokic. On the other hand, Denver is a slow and methodical team with Jokic not the most athletic big man in the league. I like these teams to hit the under.
Prediction: Under 214
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