Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers
With the Los Angeles Lakers leading 2-0 in the NBA Western Conference Finals, the Denver Nuggets’ backs are against the wall once more as they try to mount another surprising comeback.
While Game 1 ended in a blowout, Game 2 was a different story altogether as it was decided by less than three points.
Denver took the lead late when Nikola Jokic scored a tough hook shot in the paint. However, in the last possession, Anthony Davis channeled his inner Black Mamba by burying the game-winning three at the buzzer.
The NBA 2020 odds heavily favour the Lakers to take a commanding 3-0 lead. But given the trend in the last two playoff rounds, one would be foolish to count the Nuggets out this early.
Can the comeback kings pull off another miracle? SBOTOP deep dives into both of these teams ahead of Game 3 which will be on Wednesday evening.
Denver need additional help
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have been a tantalising duo in this postseason, but they are going to need a lot more if they’ll make their first-ever NBA Finals appearance.
The one-two punch of Denver has been carrying the load on offence, notching a scoring average of 48.5 points between them so far.
But besides Jokic and Murray, there aren’t much anything else as only Michael Porter Jr. has scored in double digits in the past two games.
Fellow starters in Paul Millsap and Gary Harris have yet to be on target, while their bench has been lacklustre too.
But despite struggling on offence, the Nuggets’ defence has improved from Game 1 to Game 2.
In Game 1, Denver allowed Los Angeles to shoot 53-per cent overall from the field and 45- per cent from three-point rage, and they got it down to 45-per cent and 36-per cent respectively in the last time out.
Their defence also forced 24 turnovers after just 12 in the first game.
The Nuggets were able to flip the Lakers’ free throw advantage in Game 1, getting 14 more opportunities (33-19) after shooting nine fewer attempts in the opener (37-28).
Denver were so close to winning in Game 2. They would have drawn level at 1-1 if only they didn’t botch their defencive coverages during the final possession by the Lakers.
Now that they’re facing a 2-0 deficit, the pressure is on once more for the Nuggets to try and bounce back.
Stars are aligning for Los Angeles
Anthony Davis and LeBron James are peaking at the right time. With the Clippers and Bucks already eliminated, the oddsmakers have them now as the prohibitive favourites to bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Like Jokic and Murray, Davis and James have been a dynamic combination for the Lakers. From their strong interior play along with the all-around games, they have been spoiling Lakers fans with a ton of NBA 2020 highlights.
But other than these two, the Lakers have turned to unsung heroes in their playoff run.
Playoff Rondo has been in full effect ever since the Rockets series, and he has been one of the Lakers’ most reliable floor generals with this passing and basketball IQ.
Meanwhile, Kyle Kuzma will chip in scoring from time to time while Alex Caruso’s energy and hustle has been a boon for this team.
While the Clippers had no answer for guarding Nikola Jokic down low, the Lakers have the personnel to make him uncomfortable.
Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee have enough length and heft to try and slow down the Serbian international, and their rebounding will be helpful too.
Despite winning a close one in Game 2, Frank Vogel’s side knows that they have to play a whole lot better given how dangerous the Nuggets are when their backs are against the wall.
This year marks the second time that these two teams meet in the Western Conference Finals.
The last time that they did so dates back to 11 years ago which featured stars like Carmelo Anthony and the late Kobe Bryant.
Los Angeles are leading 2-0 in a playoff series for the first time since 2012 and they have yet to lose a series holding the said advantage since the 1969 Finals against Boston.
What are the odds?
This figures to be another close game, but the betting tips point to another win by the Lakers.
Los Angeles are pegged at -2.50 @ 1.23 in the Asian Handicap market, and they have the big edge too in the money line priced at 1.35.
The Nuggets will have to play an almost perfect game every time to give themselves a chance and this is no walk in the park for the Lakers either.
And while this series can go to the distance, the Lakers’ collective experience might prove to be the key difference as they continue their run at the title.
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