Lakers vs Nuggets Preview & Free Pick [Game 3]

LA Lakers (2-0) vs Denver (0-2)
When: Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020
Where: AdventHealth Arena,
Orlando, Florida
Time: 9:00 ET | TV: TNT
Opening Odds: Los Angeles -6.5/214

The Denver Nuggets are no strangers to being down in a playoff series, but they were on the verge of evening-up the Western Conference Finals on Sunday night until Anthony Davis stuck a dagger in them. Denver looks to bounce back in Game 3 on Tuesday night when they take on the Los Angeles Lakers at AdventHealth Arena near Orlando. The Nuggets have already come back in their two earlier series this postseason, rallying from 3-1 deficits to advance at the expense of Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers in the first two rounds. The Lakers took the opener 126-114 and needed a Davis 3-pointer at the buzzer to win Game 2, 105-103 on Sunday night.

The back-to-back wins give the top-seeded Lakers a 2-0 lead in a playoff series for the first time in eight years. The Lakers haven’t lost a best-of-seven in which they led 2-0 since the 1969 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. The Nuggets’ biggest improvement in Game 2 came on the defensive side of the ball where they held L.A. to just 44.6 percent shooting overall after getting scorched for 53.0 percent in the series opener. Denver also forced 24 turnovers Sunday, but need to get better and rebounding the ball. Los Angeles collected 13 offensive rebounds including one by guard Danny Green in the final seconds to setup Davis’ shot. Denver was able to shoot 14 more free throws in Game 2 than the Lakers after shooting nine fewer in Game 1. Game 4 is scheduled for Thursday.

Davis not only hit the winning shot that would have made Kobe Bryant proud, but carried the team in the second half when they needed him most. Davis finished the game with 31 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks in 39 minutes. He’s been the Most Valuable Player through two games, averaging 34.0 points and is 19-for-22 from the free throw line. LeBron James scored 12 early points and ended up with 26 points and 11 rebounds in 36 minutes. However, James made just one of six shots in the final quarter and will need to be better in crunch time moving forward. My guess is that he will. The Lakers are 5-1 against the spread in their last six playoff games.

Denver wasted a big night from Nikola Jokic, who had 30 points, six rebounds, nine assists, and four steals. Jamal Murray scored 25, but the rest of the starters need to step up. Paul Millsap contributed just six points, Jerami Grant seven points, and Gary Harris only three. Jokic is averaging 25.5 points per game in the series, while going 17-for-34 from the field and 16-for-19 from the foul line. Murray doubled his trips to the foul line in Games 2, going 7-for-8 after a 4-for-4 opener. After draining at least 12 three-pointers in each of their last three games in the second round, the Nuggets have not hit more than nine over the first two games of the Western Conference finals.

The Lakers are going to win this series, but this Nuggets team doesn’t go down easily. Yes, that was a heartbreaker the other night, but they will hang tough in this one and cover the spread.

Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free NBA Picks page for today.

Pick: Nuggets +6.5