The NBA is set up with a great day of action as the Western Conference Final continues on Sunday. The Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers will meet in Game 2 of their series on September 20. These two teams played a solid Game 1 and I expect another good one in Game 2. This game will tip off at around 7:30 PM Eastern time on TNT.
The Nuggets finished out the regular season with a record of 46-27, which put them in third place of the Western Conference. Denver met up with the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers in the first two rounds. The Nuggets were down 3-1 in both series and came back to eliminate both teams. Now Denver will look to earn a big win in this one to avoid falling to far in the series again.
Los Angeles had earned a record of 52-19 to finish out the regular season. The Lakers finished in first place of the Western Conference. Los Angeles faced the Portland Trail Blazers and the Houston Rockets in the first two rounds. The Lakers eliminated both teams in five games to move into the Conference Finals. Now Los Angeles will look to extend their lead in this series.
These two teams have made strong playoff runs so far this season. The Nuggets have been nothing if not resilient. Denver finds themselves down once again in a series, but I do not expect them to panic. Denver could be running out of gas though as they are coming off back to back seven game series. If the Lakers can wear them out, it could give them a massive edge.
The Nuggets and the Lakers met up three times before the season came to a halt. The first game was in Denver, where the Lakers were able to win 105-96. The second game shifted back to Los Angeles, where this time the Nuggets won 128-104. The third game before the pause was in Denver on February 12, where Los Angeles took a 120-116 win in overtime.
These two teams met up once during the seeding games in the bubble. P.J. Dozier dropped 18 points, while Michael Porter Jr. scored 15 points. LeBron James dropped 29 points and 12 assists, while Anthony Davis scored 27 points. Kyle Kuzma finished with 25 points as the Lakers pulled away with a 124-121 win over the Nuggets to keep their spot in the standings.
The first game of this series was back on September 18. Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic both scored 21 points for the Nuggets, but it was not enough. Anthony Davis dropped 37 points and 10 rebounds. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope dropped 18 points, while LeBron James scored 15 points and 12 assists. The Lakers finished with a 126-114 win to take a 1-0 series lead.
Los Angeles was able to win three of the four games of the regular season, losing the only game they played in L.A. to the Nuggets. The Lakers won the first game in the bubble for a seeding game and were able to take the first game of this series. Denver will look to bounce back with a huge win in this one on Sunday night.
Field Goal Percentage
The Nuggets have earned a solid shooting percentage throughout this postseason. Denver has made 46.7 percent of their shots from the field, which is second out of the remaining playoff teams. The Nuggets have also made 38.9 percent of their shots from behind the arc, which is the best out of the remaining playoff teams. In Game 1, Denver shot 49.4 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from deep.
Los Angeles has had the best field goal percentage out of the entire postseason. The Lakers have made 49.9 percent of their shots from the field through this playoff run. Los Angeles has also made 36.4 percent of their shots from behind the arc, which is solid. The Lakers made 53 percent of their shots from the field and 42.3 percent of their shots from deep in Game 1 of this series.
The Lakers have put up the better shooting percentage from the field in this playoff run, but the Nuggets have been much better from deep. Denver struggled from behind the arc in Game 1 though, as Los Angeles dominated from deep. The Nuggets will look to find some rhythm from deep in Game 2 and tighten up their defense on the perimeter.
Jamal Murray has had a strong playoff run. Murray is averaging 26.5 points and 6.5 assists per game throughout this postseason. Nikola Jokic has averaged 25 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Michael Porter Jr. is averaging 11.5 points and 7 rebounds per game. Jerami Grant has averaged another 10 points per game for the Nuggets.
Los Angeles has also been led by their big two throughout this postseason. Anthony Davis is averaging 28.5 points and 11 rebounds per game this postseason. LeBron James has averaged 25.5 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists per game. Kyle Kuzma has averaged 11 points per game off the bench, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo are both averaging 10 points per game.
These two teams have seen great production from their top two players. Murray and Jokic have stepped up a lot in big games, while Davis and James have been two of the top players this season. Davis dominated in Game 1, while James was held quiet. The Nuggets will look for more depth players to step up, while LeBron will look to take over in this one.
These two teams played a great Game 1, but it was the Lakers who pulled away with a really strong win. I believe that the Nuggets will bounce back with a strong performance in Game 2 to at least keep it close. Denver has played a lot of close games with Los Angeles this season and I think they will play touch with the Lakers on Sunday night.
BetOnline has Los Angeles listed as a -7 ½ against the spread for Game 2. This implies that the Lakers will earn a dominant win on Sunday night. I believe that the Nuggets will keep Game 2 close, which gives a lot of value as big underdogs. Denver has been resilient all playoffs long, which I think will prove true again in Game 2 of this series.