- An Anthony Davis buzzer beater won Game 2 for the Los Angeles Lakers, putting them up 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals
- Tuesday’s Game 3 is decisive as the Denver Nuggets push to come back from behind once again
- Get the latest Game 3 odds, betting discussion and a pick below
Sunday’s Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals was a cracker. The Denver Nuggets came from behind in the second half, as they have made a habit of doing, but they fell 2-0 down in the series courtesy of an outrageous buzzer beater from Anthony Davis.
The two teams duel again on Tuesday with Denver desperately needing a win.
The Nuggets are the only team in NBA history to produce to 3-1 series comebacks in the same post-season, but no team has ever recovered from a 3-0 deficit. Game 3 is a must-win for Nikola Jokic and co.
Despite a well-fought Game 2, the Lakers remain heavy favorites ahead of Game 3 in the latest Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver Nuggets odds.
Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver Nuggets Game 3 Odds
|Los Angeles Lakers||-6.5 (-110)||-270||O 213.5 (-110)|
|Denver Nuggets||+6.5 (-110)||+220||U 213.5 (-110)|
Odds taken from FanDuel on September 22nd
Malone’s Big Decisions
Jamal Murray and Jokic combined for 55 points in Game 2. The rest of their starters managed just 16 points, resulting in no fourth quarter minutes for Gary Harris and just six for Jerami Grant.
Mike Malone was searching for offensive help alongside his two stars, but as has been the case throughout the playoffs, Malone was balancing the need for scoring with keeping sufficient defensive presence on the floor.
Shooting 33.3% from three as a team isn’t ideal, but that didn’t kill the Nuggets on Sunday. Paul Millsap and Harris both missed several easy finishes inside – the two combined for three-for-12 from the field. The free-throw line was not their friend. Denver got 33 attempts from the stripe – 14 more than the Lakers – but they missed eight free throws, four of which came from PJ Dozier in the fourth quarter.
Jamal Murray was +16 in 44 minutes and somehow the Nuggets lost the other 4 minutes so badly that they didn't win.
— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) September 21, 2020
Murray had quiet periods in Game 2, but he and Jokic came into their own again in the second half. They were making the difficult shots they need to make.
Denver were a Davis three away from a win, which will obviously hurt. It isn’t unreasonable for them to feel like they should have taken this game before Davis has the chance to make that shot.
Michael Porter Jr. was the only Nugget other than Murray and Jokic to get into double figures. Malone might have to gamble on more Porter minutes in Game 3 (he played under 20 on Sunday and just three in the fourth).
LeBron’s Game of Two Halves
LeBron James came flying out the blocks in Game 2. As his teammates missed their first 12 shots, LeBron led the way, and finished the first half with 20 points on eight-for-11 from the field. Denver had no answer to LeBron as he beat them with threes, give-and-go’s and dunk finishes.
Where he was red-hot in the first half, the four-time MVP was freezing cold in the second half. James went full Paul George after the break, scoring just six points on two-for-nine from the field and missing four threes. Four of his six turnovers for the game came in the second half, too.
Game 3 ⏩ Tuesday, 9 PM ET, TNT pic.twitter.com/4GBaxeVBvP
— NBA (@NBA) September 21, 2020
Part of this can be attributed to improved Nuggets defense. They made paint penetration much tougher, building a wall around the basket and were much quicker to send help when LeBron found a favorable matchup. A lot of it was James struggling. Such performances are rare, and the fact that the Nuggets still lost a game when James had such a poor half is a bad sign.
Denver to Dig Deep
Denver can take so many positives from the second half of Game 2. It was a gutting defeat, and it’s a massive uphill battle to win this series, but they have bounced back over and over. After becoming frustrated and getting into foul trouble, Jokic begun to get the better of Dwight Howard, whose poor discipline could have cost the Lakers on another night.
Michael Porter Jr. with the ridiculous shot on LeBron James. pic.twitter.com/gEhpPUqQBl
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) September 21, 2020
Going with the Nugget to cover looks a pretty safe bet. Given the likelihood of more minutes for Porter, the over and a Denver win at +510 is a decent outside shot. The moneyline represents the best value in what is a game loaded with betting options.
Pick: Denver Nuggets moneyline (+235)