Can Third Time Be a Charm for Denver Nuggets Down 3-1 vs. LA Lakers?

Mark J. Terrill/Related Press

You are going to see the identical hack joke in every single place over the subsequent couple of days: The Denver Nuggets have the Los Angeles Lakers proper the place they need them.

It is simply really easy—as straightforward as it’s off the mark. The reality is, we’re now on the previous few pages of one of many playoffs’ finest tales with Denver down 3-1 for the third consecutive collection following Thursday’s 114-108 loss to the Lakers.

The Nuggets may have had this one, although. Dwight Howard‘s shock begin and unbelievable first-half impression keyed a Lakers assault constructed on offensive boards and putbacks. Howard had 4 of these himself within the first quarter and grabbed six of his crew’s misses on the evening. In all, the Lakers crushed Denver 25-6 in second-chance factors.

ESPN Stats & Data @ESPNStatsInfo

The Lakers win Recreation Four in opposition to the Nuggets 114-108 to go up 3-1 within the WCF.

The Lakers’ 25 second-chance factors have been the Third-most by any crew in a sport this postseason.

LA averaged simply 10.7 second-chance PPG over Video games 1-Three within the West Finals. https://t.co/jjst606LMx

The Nuggets will take little solace in simply how anomalous the Lakers’ evening on the offensive glass was; between now and a do-or-die Recreation 5, all they will take into consideration is {that a} bludgeoning on the boards of that magnitude got here in a sport they misplaced by simply six factors. That is if they will put Anthony Davis’ equally unbelievable game-winner in Recreation 2 out of their minds but.

With out taking something away from L.A., which has earned its 3-1 benefit, the Nuggets are awfully near being up 3-1 themselves.

However they are not.

And although this crew has demonstrated its resilience to a historic diploma by climbing out of 3-1 holes in every of the final two collection, the third time will not be the attraction—not with Davis shoveling dust on them like he has over the past two video games.

AD adopted up his 31-point, buzzer-beating heroism in Recreation 2 with one other 34 factors Thursday. He hit his first seven photographs from the sector, and no matter changes the Nuggets make forward of Recreation 5, nothing figures to decelerate Davis when he is closing out video games like this.

Fastbreak Breakfast @fastbreakbreak

Anthony Davis’ 4th quarter true taking pictures proportion within the convention finals is 95.2%

That is really some extent value dwelling on.

See, if Denver would not shock the basketball world for a 3rd straight time, it will not be as a result of “the magic ran out.” There was no magic within the Nuggets’ earlier comebacks. They are not charmed or fortunate or something of the kind. They’d company in turning the tables on the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers.

They have been the higher crew. It simply took them 4 video games (and three losses) to show it.

The problem is totally different this time, and it is solely due to who’s in possession of that 3-1 benefit.

StatMuse @statmuse

LeBron has by no means misplaced a playoff collection when main 3-1.

The Nuggets have gained their final 2 collection down 3-1.

🤔 https://t.co/L8fewCFYl0

That is bleak for Denver. However even when the purpose we’re making right here is that not all 3-1 deficits are alike, the Nuggets will name on a few of the identical battle-forged traits that propelled them to their final two collection triumphs.

For starters, the Nuggets aren’t fazed by the Lakers. They simply took down the latest Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, choosing his crew aside as theirs held collectively, rising immensely within the course of. Even Denver’s least skilled gamers are firing off high-leverage photographs in opposition to L.A. with no issues concerning the sky-high stakes.

Legion Hoops @LegionHoops

Michael Porter Jr…. easy. https://t.co/VA4T5YDRqQ

Add to that the truth that Denver has made a behavior of finally determining what works and what would not higher than its opponents. Working example: The zone that flummoxed the Nuggets and compelled a number of late turnovers, permitting the Lakers to just about make up all of a 20-point deficit in Recreation 3, did not look so nice in Recreation 4.

Denver Nuggets @nuggets

Zonebusters https://t.co/bz9pW8Vmm8

The extra the Nuggets see an opponent, the extra they zero in on weak spots.

There are glimmers of hope—for Recreation 5, if not the collection as a complete.

And let’s not overlook the blinding mild that’s Jamal Murray, whose 32 factors and positively preposterous shotmaking in Recreation Four would have been shocking if he hadn’t spent all the playoffs electrifying his crew in precisely the identical method.

Simply because the Nuggets appear to lack a solution for Davis, the Lakers cannot be anticipated to attract up plans to cease this:

Denver Nuggets @nuggets

😱😱😱 @BeMore27 https://t.co/ru6LJrPObH

Or this:

Mo Dakhil @MoDakhil_NBA

A terrific drive from Murray, an important half is that he seeks out the contact with Howard, simply sufficient to sluggish him up so he can get the layup off. https://t.co/GbLE17G5N6

Or this:

NBA @NBA

JAMAL MURRAY FLOATS IT IN WITH THE LEFT! 😳

@Lakers 100
@nuggets 96

5:34 to play on TNT https://t.co/Tn5lMVyARh

In the long run, although, we’ve got to return to the naked incontrovertible fact that Denver is a sport away from elimination. The Lakers, extra skilled and seeming far much less doubtless than the Jazz or Clippers to wilt underneath the Nuggets’ determined onslaught, get three cracks at ending this factor.

If and after they do, let’s you’ll want to do not forget that the Nuggets did not regress to the imply or come again to earth or run out of no matter particular sauce it was that acquired them this far. They did not wind up within the Western Convention Finals on a fluke. They earned their means right here on the power of tactical changes, coronary heart and the simultaneous brilliance of Murray and Nikola Jokic.

Denver’s run could also be almost over, however the magic was all the time actual.

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