The show goes on in the NBA Playoffs for the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers as they meet again tonight for game two of their first round series. In game one Anthony Davis and LeBron James gave the Nuggets their best punch but it wasn’t enough to overcome the wizardry of Nikola Jokic. Despite L.A. getting out to a big lead, they couldn’t keep it and with no help from anyone else on the roster, ultimately the Lakers succumbed to the inevitability of the Nuggets. Now as we head into game two Darvin Ham will have to figure out what adjustments need to be made to prevent the same outcome from happening again…for the tenth time in a row.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (1-0) vs Los Angeles Lakers (0-1)

When: 8:00 PM MDT

Where: The Can. Denver, CO.

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy…unless it’s the romanticized 18th century type. TNT. AltitudeTV where available (AltitudeTV is available on DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and Fubo TV). League Pass for non-Nuggets market viewers. Claim to be D’Angelo Russel’s new performance at high altitude consultant. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio.

Rival blog: Silver Screen & Roll

The Matchup

Position Nuggets Lakers Advantage
PG Jamal Murray D’Angelo Russell Nuggets
SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Austin Reaves Even
SF Michael Porter Jr. LeBron James Lakers
PF Aaron Gordon Rui Hacimura Nuggets
C Nikola Jokic Anthony Davis Nuggets
Bench Reggie Jackson, Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, Justin Holiday Spencer Dinwiddie, Gabe Vincent, Jaxon Hayes, Taurean Prince Even

Injury Report: Vlatko Cancar – out (knee); Anthony Davis – probable (back), LeBron James – probable (foot), Jalen Hood-Schifino – out (back), Cam Reddish – out (ankle), Jarred Vanderbilt – out (foot), Christian Wood – out (knee).

The Three Things

The thing to watch for: D’Angelo Russell vs Jamal Murray

Mar 2, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) is defended by Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) in the first half at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It’s painfully obvious that if LeBron and AD don’t have someone to help they can’t beat the Nuggets on their own. The guy you would expect to be that third person is Russell but thus far his struggles against Denver have continued. He was just 6-20 from the field in Game 1 and his trademark traffic cone defense was still ever present. The Lakers have got to get more out of D’Angelo if they have any hope of winning this game. Meanwhile, Jamal Murray didn’t put up his best performance either. He needed twenty-four shots to get twenty-two points and was abysmal shooting the ball inside the three point line. If Jamal turns his game around first then it might already be lights out for the Lakers in Denver.

The thing to remember: the pressure is still on Denver

Even though the Nuggets ran their win streak against the Lakers up to nine it doesn’t mean they can take their foot of the gas in the slightest. The Lakers only need to win a single game in Denver out of these first two and every pundit from New York to L.A. will completely forget about how Denver rattled off nine straight. The talk will rain down from the hills about how L.A. has finally figured the Nuggets out, about the greatness of 39 year old LeBron and how Anthony Davis might actually be the best big man in the league. Spare me. The Nuggets need to keep their focus and continue to dominate a team that frankly has no business being on the court with them. Take care of the Lakers tonight and head to L.A. to put a stranglehold on the series and send this perennial play-in team on vacation.

The thing to bet: Jamal Murray over 24.5 points (-120)

It’s not the best odds here on Jamal points but it also feels like a foregone conclusion that he hits his over. Even with his poor shooting in game one Jamal racked up twenty-two points and you know he’s going to be looking for a bounce back game tonight. He’s also very likely to play near forty minutes, if not more, so getting twenty-five points tonight is no bigger ask then him continuing to get his per minute average for points.