Lakers vs nuggets
Photo Credit: ESPN

Playoff Preview: Lakers vs Nuggets – Western Conference Finals – Game 4

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Los Angeles Lakers (9-3)  |  Denver Nuggets (9-7)

 

This game 4 of the Western Conference Finals follows the Lakers’ 106-114 Game 3 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

 

 

Photo Credit: The Denver Post

The Lakers will approach this game the same way they have throughout the whole playoffs. LeBron James will be a playmaker until he has to score. Anthony Davis will shoot the same number of times he has been throughout the series.

If their role players are hitting their three-pointers off open looks from James’ passes, they will continue shooting their threes while Davis tries to dominate the paint. If the shooter’s struggle or Davis struggles from the paint, Davis will shoot more mid-range jump shots. James will take over then drive in the paint more when the offense stumbles.

 

James will do what he typically does, play point guard playmaker then score if necessary.

 

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Daily News

The reason the Lakers lost game 2 was because of their horrible three-point shooting. There are only two ways the Nuggets can beat the Lakers. First, the Nuggets have to have an efficient game. Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, and Michael Porter Jr. will most likely be the key to this strategy. Their team has a lot of depth though, in game three, it was Monte Morris that surprised the world. No matter what happens, they need to shoot at least 50 percent from the floor to beat the Lakers.

The other way is if the Lakers go cold from beyond the arch. The second option happened in game 3; they shot 23.1 percent from three. When they lost to the Houston Rockets in game 1 of the second round, they shot 28.9 percent from three. When they lost to the Portland Trail Blazers in game 1 of the first round, they shot 15.6 percent from three.

The ongoing pattern is that when the Lakers shoot below 30 percent from three, they lose. There is no way to control that. Some nights the ball does not go in the hoop. The best thing the Lakers can do is to stick to what they’re used to and keep their heads up. The Nuggets played a tremendous game to keep up with them offensively. Regardless of that, there was not much the Lakers could do to win since their three-point shooting was awful.

 

The only major changes we might see from the Lakers in game 4 is giving Rajon Rondo more minutes.

 

Photo Credit: CBS Sports

Rondo played great defense in game 3. He recorded three steals and eight assists while playing 29 minutes. In both games 1 and 2, Rondo only played 21 minutes. Since he rallied a Lakers comeback in game 3, they kept him in the game for longer than he typically plays.

His defensive decisions were stellar. He double-teamed players at the right time while giving his man no space to pass efficiently or shoot. He hustled on fast breaks after getting steals, which lead to a lot of the Lakers’ points. He might be the spark they need to rebound from the game three loss, mainly because their defense struggled until he came into the game.

Another change the Lakers will consider is reducing Alex Caruso’s minutes. This won’t happen just because he played poorly in game 3. The reason this could happen is because of how well Rondo has played. When Rondo played 29 minutes in game 3, Caruso only played 24. Caruso will rebound from his substandard performance because there is a slight chance he plays as bad as he did in game three again.

The only reason they could reduce his minutes would be to split the load with Rondo. Rondo showed he could stop the Nuggets defensively. Even if the Nuggets try to adjust, Rondo is experienced enough to know their offensive strategies. He has more playoff experience than Caruso and has been making smart decisions on both offense and defense. It is something the Lakers will definitely consider for game 4.

 

Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 pm and it airs on TNT.

 

Western Conference Finals schedule (All times PT)

  • Game 1Lakers 126 – Nuggets 114
  • Game 2Lakers 105 – Nuggets 103
  • Game 3Lakers 106 – Nuggets 114
  • Game 4—Thursday, September 24, 6 p.m.—TNT
  • Game 5*—Saturday, September 26, 6 p.m.—TNT
  • Game 6*—Monday, September 28, TBD—TNT
  • Game 7*—Wednesday, September 30, TBD—TNT

*If required

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-Kyle Randolph – Franchise Sports Media

      

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Lakers vs Nuggets – Game 2