The Denver Nuggets (64-32) are one game away from the NBA Finals with the potential for the first sweep in franchise history tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers (51-47). The Nuggets have won five straight games dating back to the end of their series against the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers have gotten close throughout the first three games of this series, but they haven’t gotten over the hump yet.

For the Nuggets, they have been winning in a variety of ways on the offensive end. Nikola Jokic’s scoring went down in Games 2 & 3 after a strong Game 1, but he had a flurry in the second half of Game 3 with the Lakers selling out to shut down Jamal Murray, who had 30 in the first half. They’ve also gotten strong shooting out of just about everyone with Jokic, Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Bruce Brown and Jeff Green all shooting 40 percent or better from outside.

For the Lakers, the hope is that everyone can put it together tonight, and they can get something out of some role players. Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura have been decent, but the team needs more from D’Angelo Russell and Dennis Schroder to extend this series. For LeBron, he’s looking to avoid just the third sweep of his playoffs career in his 53rd career series.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (64-32, 22-22 away) @ Los Angeles Lakers (51-47, 29-19 home)

When: 6:30 p.m. MST

Where: Arena

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. ESPN. Show up in Los Angeles. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Expected Starting Lineups:

LAL: PG D’Angelo Russell SG Austin Reaves, SF LeBron James, PF Jarred Vanderbilt, C Anthony Davis

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Michael Porter Jr., PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Anthony Davis (foot) PROBABLE, LeBron James (foot) PROBABLE

Three Things to Watch

Avoid Foul Trouble

Early in Game 3, Jokic found himself dealing with foul trouble as he had three at the half. When he’s in foul trouble, that allows a Lakers’ offense that thrives by attacking the basket to put him in a compromising position of defending them and risking the foul or giving up the free basket. In Game 2, we saw multiple guys dealing with early fouls. If Denver can avoid those spots, they’ll be in a good spot.

Hassle Russell

Through three games, D’Angelo Russell hasn’t been able to find his rhythm on offense. He’s shooting 29.6 percent from the floor and 14.3 percent from 3-point range. A large part of that is Denver is attacking him on defense. If they can continue to wear him out on that end, it will reduce his offensive impact on them. He’s the type of player that can get hot and carry an offense if he sees one fall, so they have to keep him in check.

Involve Everyone

This point continues to ring true every single night. Denver had 30 assists in Game 3, but it wasn’t all Jokic and Murray. Five players had four or more assists, including MPJ with a career-high of six. Keeping the ball moving wears the defense out, and that’s when you go from one guy getting a good shot to the next guy getting a great shot with one extra pass. At this point in the year, it’s about the team’s numbers more than your own numbers, and these guys are buying into that.

The Watch Party

It’s another STIFFS NIGHT OUT tonight at Sportsbook in Highlands Ranch. We’ll have giveaways and a chance to cheer on the Nuggets with the Denver Stiffs family and our friends at Mile High Sports. Join us tonight starting at 6pm.

The Betting Angles

The Lakers are favored by 3 (-110 at Bet365) and the total is set with an over/under of 224.5. If you’re thinking the series ends tonight, the Denver moneyline is +135. Player Props are big in this matchup with BetMGM saying the #1 most bet prop is the over on Michael Porter Jr’s rebounds + assists at 8.5 (-120).

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