The Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets have taken NBA fans for a wild ride through the first three games of the Western Conference Finals. The Purple and Gold came out of the gate strong, behind spectacular performances by LeBron James and Anthony Davis as well as key contributions from playoff newcomers like Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso and grizzled veterans like Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo. But the Nuggets, with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray leading the way, nearly nabbed Game 2 and managed to hold on for a win in Game 3, thanks in part to Jerami Grant’s breakout game.
What’s next for this rematch of the 2009 Western Conference Finals? Will the Lakers seize control on the strength of their superstar duo, with some help (and long-range shots) from their supporting cast? Or are the Nuggets, fresh off of climbing out of 3-1 holes in consecutive postseason series, primed for an unprecedented third straight turn as the “comeback kids” of the 2020 NBA playoffs?
On this week’s episode of Hollywood Hoops, Eric Pincus and Josh Martin break down the Lakers-Nuggets showdown from every angle. Our co-hosts consider what went right for LA in Games 1 and 2, why Frank Vogel’s squad fell short in Game 3, and what those three contests portend for the remainder of this series. The Lakers’ Game 1 blowout may have been an aberration against a tired Nuggets squad, but it’s full of clues about what works well for the 16-time champions. So, too, was the first half of Game 2 and the second half of Game 3.
Eric and Josh also look at the matchups and lineups that have swung the series so far. Is Dwight the key to slowing Jokic? Could Rondo be the defensive spark plug that the Lakers need to get out and run? How important is LA’s collection of big men to counteracting Denver’s size, and can the Lakers afford to go small at all—even against the Nuggets’ bench?
Our co-hosts then look ahead to the upcoming games in the Western Conference Finals and, based on the back-and-forth to date, wonder whether their predictions for this series hold true. Finally, Eric and Josh close out the show by debating whether LeBron was truly “snubbed” in the MVP race against Giannis Antetokounmpo.
00:00 – Lakers vs Nuggets Game 3
15:02 – The Western Conference Finals So Far
29:57 – What’s Next for LA-Denver?
44:39 – LeBron vs Giannis for MVP