The Denver Nuggets didn’t lack confidence going into their Western Conference Finals matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers. In the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Nuggets overcame 3-1 deficits twice to win their series, which made them the first team in NBA history to overcome more than 3-1 deficit in the postseason.
The Lakers currently lead their series with the Nuggets 2-1, with an opportunity to go up 3-1 on Thursday, but Jamal Murray doesn’t feel like Los Angeles has been the clear-but better team. In fact, he thinks the Nuggets should be leading the series.
“We had Game 2,” Murray said after the Nuggets’ win in Game 3 on Tuesday. “I thought we played great in Game 2. We just had, like I said, a couple breakdowns that really hurt us. We feel like we should be up 2-1 right now, to be honest.”
Murray’s not the only one that thinks so either. Following Tuesday’s game, Kyle Kuzma said that the Lakers deserved to lose their last two games.
“If it wasn’t for Anthony hitting an incredible shot ... we had 23 turnovers in that game, and we knew after that game, and the next day, and today, that you can’t turn the ball over against this team, especially in the playoffs where every possession counts. You just can’t be careless with the ball,” Kuzma said.
There’s no denying that the Nuggets have played with more desperation in the last two games, which is usually the case for the team that’s trailing in the series. They’ve also played more physically than the Lakers, which is ultimately why they lost on Tuesday.
But to say the Nuggets have been the better team in the last two games would be inaccurate. Game 2 may have been decided by Davis’ clutch 3-pointer, but the Lakers led the Nuggets for 43 minutes in Sunday’s game, according to Basketball Reference, and they led by as much as 19 points. Very rarely do teams stumble into wins in the Western Conference Finals, especially against a team as talented and well-coached as Denver.
Even if that were true though, the Lakers are in a good position going into Game 4 on Thursday, and that’s the “glass half full” mindset Anthony Davis had after Game 3.
“We’re still up 2-1,” Davis said. “We have control of the series. We just got to come out in Game 4 and play our style of basketball. Can’t turn the ball over. Can’t put them on the line. Our defense was great in the fourth quarter. We got to be able to do that for all four [quarter], all 48 minutes. We can’t not play in the first three and then expect to win a game in the fourth.
“If we come out and play our style of basketball, you know, pushing the pace and being scrappy and being the aggressors, especially on defense, we’ll be fine.”
The Lakers and Nuggets will tip-off Game of the Western Conference Finals at 6 p.m. on TNT.