Lakers Nuggets Game 4 Preview: 2 Keys to Victory

Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post

The Los Angeles Lakers find themselves down 3-0 in their first-round series against the defending champion Denver Nuggets ahead of Game 4 tonight.

Hoping to avoid the sweep for the second year in a row, Darvin Ham and the LakeShow must make the necessary adjustments to counter the dynamic duo of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic.

Here are our two keys to victory for the Purple and Gold as they look to keep their championship aspirations alive.

3P Shooting

The Lakers' 3P shooting has been a significant factor in this series, with a disappointing 30.2% from beyond the arc. This is a far cry from their season average of 37.7%, indicating a clear area for improvement.

Efficient three-point shooting has been a game-changer for the Lakers all year, shooting 40.0% in wins compared to 34.6% in losses. This disparity underscores the crucial role of 3P shooting in the Lakers' success. 

D'Angelo Russell has been a key player in the Lakers' 3P shooting this season, averaging an impressive 41.5% from three on 7.2 attempts per game in the regular season.

However, his three-point shooting in the playoffs has not lived up to his regular season performance, shooting a mere 30.8% on 8.7 attempts per game.

His struggle was evident in an 0/6 shooting effort Thursday night, highlighting the direct impact of his performance on the Lakers' 3P shooting. 

Denver held opponents to 35.5% from three in the regular season, ranking in the top ten in the category.

If the Lakers are to win this game, they must find a way to get their three-pointer going, and it starts with D’Angelo Russell. After a 1/9 performance in Game 1, Russell bounced back with a barrage of three-pointers in Game 2.

Expect a similar performance tonight in what hopes to be a Laker win.

Rebounding

The Lakers have faced significant challenges in the rebounding category against Denver this series.

They have surrendered 48.3 rebounds per game to the Nuggets through three games, a considerable increase from their season average of 44.0.

In contrast, the Lakers have only managed to average 38.7 rebounds compared to their season average of 43.1. This rebounding discrepancy underscores a key area of weakness for the Lakers. 

Injuries have plagued the Lakers bigs, such as Christian Wood, who averaged 5.1 rebounds on 17.4 minutes per game but has been out with a knee injury since February.

Outside of Anthony Davis, the Lakers lack size and depth down low, and they have not been able to keep up with Denver’s frontcourt.

LA’s backup big men, such as Jaxson Hayes, and forwards, such as Rui Hachimura, need to step up in this category to limit the rebound discrepancy and keep the Lakers in the game.

While not in the ideal situation, the Lakers have the ability to keep their championship hopes alive tonight.

Expect the Purple and Gold to come out swinging tonight, shooting the basketball effectively and crashing the boards en route to a strong home victory. If the Lakers win tonight, they travel back to Denver for Game 5 on Monday night.

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