NBA Playoff Predictions — Lakers Could Take Command Over Nuggets With Game 3 Win

The Denver Nuggets, who have been forced to make dramatic comebacks in their two previous playoff series, had the opportunity to put themselves in a better position in Game 2 of the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but they fell short. As a result they have to beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night or they will go down three games to none, which may be too big a deficit for them to overcome.

Game time is 9 PM ET, with TNT televising. At BetAnySports, these are the NBA playoff odds for Game 3:

Los Angeles Lakers -6.5
Denver Nuggets +6.5

Over 214 points -110
Under 214 points -110

You might be able to make some kind of argument for the virtues of ending series early, to put some “rest in the bank.” The Nuggets had to have been a little weary after those back-to-back seven-game series, while the Lakers weren’t taxed nearly as much.

LeBron James & Co. took care of business in the first game, winning it by 14 points. But then they had life and death for certain in Game 2, as they were not able to maintain a ten-point halftime lead. And they barely escaped, thanks to a long ball by Anthony Davis, who is not a guy you would expect to be taking that kind of shot at the end.

Through these first two games, these teams have shot pretty well. There’s not a lot of difference between them in that regard. The Lakers have shot a little better from three-point range.

One thing that was apparent at the outset of the series was that the Nuggets were going to have a difficult time imposing their size, or stopping the Lakers from doing the same. And the Lakers indeed dominated things with 54 points in the paint in Game 1. But they were able to do a better job of it in Game 2. They held the Lakers to 34 points in the paint, and got to the line 33 times themselves.

They lost the offensive rebounding battle, though, and through the first two games, L.A. has pulled down more than 30% of its own misses. We understand that Denver gave Torrey Craig a lot of time for defensive purposes, but we can’t say they did enough that might be considered repeatable. And it hurt offense. And they were pretty lost without Jamal Murray on the floor. Can he go all the way for them?

When this thing began, we believed the Lakers would have an edge in terms of what they could do off the bench. Well, it can be said that Kyle Kuzma, who may be the team’s this best offensive player, hasn’t really caught fire yet. And they have not gotten everything they could be getting out of Dwight Howard, or Markeiff Morris.

Rajon Rondo has been the consummate playoff veteran, and he’s a guy who comes off the bench with energy at both ends of the floor. He actually has over 1000 playoff assists – did you know that?

And guess what? LeBron James hasn’t necessarily played all that well. So there is some “upside” to the Lakers. And we don’t see the spark coming from the Nugget players aside from Jokic and Murray.

No, the Lakers aren’t the best team shooting triples. But they can get the easy baskets, at any point in the game, because Howard can come off the bench and so can JeVale McGee (who hasn’t produced yet) and they have guys like LeBron and Rondo off the bench who can penetrate and attack. So we will go with a measured recommendation on the Lakers in this one.

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