There has to be a higher power at work here, right? Is there like a Blood Moon coming up or something? A Fall solstice (I don’t even know if that’s a thing)? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, sham on me. Fool me three times, well, you know the J. Cole lyrics. Is that what the Denver Nuggets are about to do to the Los Angeles Lakers after going down 3-1 in a playoff series for the third straight time in 2020? It might be.
So the Nuggets lost pretty conventionally to the Lakers on Thursday night 114-108 in Game 4. Los Angeles came out fast and got out to a big lead, no defense was played pretty much the entire night, and Anthony Davis ate the Nuggets up like a 20-piece from McDonalds. So now Denver has to be having flashbacks. These are good flashbacks though! This is essentially the same way the second round went against the Clippers. Drop 2 games without question. Drop 1 close game. Win one game easily. It’s not the exact same pattern as the first round, but close enough, right? We’re at a 3-1 deficit again.
Honestly, I didn’t think it would come to this again. DraftKings Sportsbook offered a pretty crazy boost before the series started. The Nuggets were boosted to +8000 to go down in the series 3-1 and come back to win in seven games. Getting to this point was half the battle. Now that we’re here, we can seriously talk about whether it’s going to happen or not.
Personally, I don’t see it happening. I just don’t think this LeBron James-Anthony Davis combo would lose three in a row to this Nuggets team after what we’ve seen so far in the series. Coach Frank Vogel even made some adjustments in Game 4, inserting Dwight Howard into the starting lineup for more size. It worked pretty well.
In Game 3, the issue was on the glass with AD only grabbing two boards. Instead of worrying about the defensive end and rebounding, Davis can operate as the focus of the offense with Howard in there to clean things up. Howard finished with 12 points and 11 boards in 23 minutes. This also spread out the bench minutes and probably kept some guys fresh. Playoff Rajon Rondo had been seeing around 30 minutes per game. He played 22 in Game 4. It was a bold, yet strong, move from Vogel knowing the series could go longer than expected.
Howard also made things a bit tougher on Nikola Jokic, who had arguably one of his worst games of these playoffs. Joker finished with 16 points, 7 boards and 4 assists. He had 5 fouls also. It’s going to be tough on the Nuggets if Mason Plumlee has to play 14 minutes in the playoffs. I think the idea was to disrupt the dynamic duo of Jamal Murray and Jokic. Take one out of the equation and the Lakers can win pretty easily with LeBron and AD. For these reasons, I just don’t see three straight losses coming for the Lakers. One, maybe two, but not three in a row.
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