Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver Nuggets
Line: Los Angeles -6
Pick: Nuggets +6
The biggest takeaway from game three of this series had to of been one thing, Denver can play with these guys. Many questioned the Nuggets legitimacy as a threat to the Lakers but clearly after the first three games there’s no doubt this is a real series.
As good as this Lakers team is, Denver does a few things they don’t really have an answer for at all.
The first and most obvious example is the Lakers have absolutely no one on their team that can guard Jamal Murray. They can throw as many Danny Green’s and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s and Alex Caruso’s as they want at Murray but it won’t change the fact they have no answer for him.
Jamal’s biggest issue in games one and two was he wasn’t aggressive enough. In game three though, the young star guard figured out his aggressiveness could be the key to this series. Since LA has no answer for him, it’s integral he forces them to have to try deal with the question of what to do.
Another major issue the Nuggets pose for the Lakers is they have a surprising amount of size defensively that can clog up the halfcourt and make things tough for them. No one is saying you can stop LeBron or Anthony Davis consistently. All you ask is that every shot for them requires effort.
Don’t think it was a coincidence both were exhausted by the end of game three, Denver made them work for everything all game long. Sure LeBron can get by Jerami Grant all day and the same can be said for Davis and whoever is in front of him. That’s to be expected, this is two first-team All-NBA players, you’re not stopping them. If you can make it hard for them though, then things get interesting.
Take every Bron drive.
If Grant bodies him the whole way and doesn’t let him walk to the rim, that is physically taxing. We saw it in game three, LeBron is clearly pacing himself since he knows only has a certain amount of peak him available. So, he has to make sure to divide it smartly throughout the game. Therefore, if he only has a certain amount available to mess around with and you make it hard no matter what, in theory he’s going to be on fumes by the end of every game.
Then it comes down to keeping it close for Denver and out executing them down the stretch of a game. In game two, Nikola Jokic came oh so close to leading them to a victory and in game three, Murray obviously came through.
That’s Denver’s blueprint. Make LeBron and Davis exert energy all game hopefully tiring them out, keep the game close and then in the last five minutes take advantage of your youthful legs and go win the game.
Frankly, it’s genius. Denver is a far younger team so the longer this series goes playing every other day, the more it favours them. That’s why tonight is so interesting.
Up 3-1, it’s pretty impossible to imagine LeBron blowing that no matter how tired he is or what this Nuggets team has done in the past. However, 2-2 with the Old Lakers running out of pitches (I mean they tried playing Dwight Howard major minutes last game LOL), this thing get’s real interesting.
Six points is the spread tonight once again and once again it’s too many points. Denver is just not two full possessions worse than this team on a neutral floor. The Lakers may well win this game as I said it means a bit more to them I could see them pulling ahead late as LeBron gives everything he has knowing its importance but, that’s just a completely disrespectful line to this Nuggets team.
It’s not difficult to see the unique advantage they have with Jokic and Murray that LA has no answer to.
My pick tonight is the Nuggets off the line being too big but I think the Lakers win it. LeBron can basically taste the finals and I don’t see him blowing a massive series lead like 2-0 with his team so close.
If they do lose though, it’ll be from another big Murray game. His aggressiveness will decide this series ultimately, if he’s ready for the spotlight, showtime may be in massive trouble.