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Preview: Denver Nuggets look to cut into Los Angeles Lakers series lead

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NBA: Playoffs-Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Through two games, we’ve seen two very different outcomes. The Denver Nuggets were beaten badly during Game 1 with a massive free-throw discrepancy, and they lost Game 2 when Los Angeles Lakers’ forward Anthony Davis nailed a 26-foot 3-point shot as time was expiring.

Denver was able to hang with them for the entire game, but they just weren’t quite able to put it away. In Game 3, they have to come away with a win. They’ve come back from two 3-1 deficits in this playoffs, but trying to come back from 3-0 would be a completely different animal.

The team is going to need to bring a special blend of play to come out of this one with a victory. They have the offense to make it happen, but it’s going to be the defense that matters most. If they’re able to slow down Davis and LeBron James, life gets so much easier for them, but that task is much easier said than done.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (46-27, 26-11 home) vs Los Angeles Lakers (52-19, 27-9 away)

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: The Bubble

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless its the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. TNT for non-Denver market viewers. Show up on Zoom. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Silver Screen and Roll

Expected Starting Lineups:

DAL: SG Danny Green, SG Kentavious Cauldwell-Pope, SF LeBron James, PF Anthony Davis, C Javale McGee

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Gary Harris, SF Jerami Grant, PF Paul Millsap, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Will Barton (Knee) Out, Vlatko Cancar (Foot) Out,

Three Things to Watch

Who’s guarding LeBron & Davis?

This is just such a difficult task. Davis and James are arguably the NBA’s most unstoppable duo, and they perfectly matchup with Denver’s biggest defensive weakness. They combined for 57 of the team’s 105 points in Game 2. If Denver is going to lose this series, it can’t be by getting smoked by these two players. Jerami Grant and Paul Millsap need to step up in a big way in Game 3.

Can Murray find a spark?

In the first two series, Murray was a microwave scorer of epic proportions. Any time he let the ball go, it looked like it was going in, and he was shooting incredibly in the playoffs. He shot decently in the first two games, but they could really use his boost from 3-point range. He’s shooting around 35 percent in the series from downtown, but, if he’s able to make a bump on that mark, this offense will get dramatically better.

Who can step up?

MIn Game 2, we saw

In Game 2, we saw Michael Porter Jr. put up 15 points off the bench, but no one else outside of Jokic and Murray was able to break double digits. Jokic and Murray are going to bring their best, but they need help. Denver’s biggest advantage in this series is their depth. Their bench is much better than the Lakers, and they need to firmly win those minutes to make life easier on the starters.