Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Pick & Prediction MAY 22nd 2023

Stadium: Staples Center Los Angeles
Logo Denver Nuggets
Logo Los Angeles Lakers

225o -110
-3.5 -110



The top team in the Western Conference during the regular season is looking every bit the part of an elite squad as the Denver Nuggets are poised to sweep their way into the first NBA Finals in franchise history.

The Nuggets will get their first chance to advance Monday in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the host Los Angeles Lakers. Denver won its third consecutive game in the series Saturday with a 119-108 victory at Los Angeles.

The Lakers erased all of a double-digit deficit in the first half to lead 94-93 with 7:48 remaining before the Nuggets went on a decisive 13-0 run to take a 106-94 lead on a Nikola Jokic shot inside with 4:50 left. It was a three-minute stretch that brought Denver to the brink of where it has never been before.

Jokic scored 24 points with eight assists and six rebounds, with his effectiveness diminished by early foul trouble. The effort ended his run of four consecutive playoff triple-doubles. Jamal Murray stepped up with 30 first-half points and 37 in the game, while former Laker Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 17.

"I never doubted my team," Jokic said. "I know they're capable. You saw it in the third quarter. (Caldwell-Pope) had a huge segment, like four minutes. He had a big box-out on (Anthony Davs), he had a steal, he had a big 3-pointer. We have some really good players that can step up in the right moment, and that's what we did."

The Nuggets essentially get four chances to advance, with two of those at home, if necessary. If the Lakers can earn a victory in Game 4, the series would shift to Denver for Game 5 on Wednesday.


"I did see poise tonight," Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said. "With foul trouble, Nikola going out, there wasn't a panic. It was, 'OK, he's out, that means somebody else has to step up.' I think that's something our team has done time and time again. I know it's cliche, but that next-man-up mentality has really served us well over the years."

The Lakers' impressive run through the postseason looks to have run out of steam. They needed to get through the play-in tournament just to get into the playoff field and then got through the No. 2-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in the first round and the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the second round.

And while the Lakers have been competitive in all three games of the Western Conference finals, they have lacked the finishing kick needed to take a game so far.

"I mean, I think the deficit is 3-0, not 4-0, so as long as they have not gotten to four yet, there's still hope," Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said. "We're still alive. We just have to focus on winning one game.

Davis scored 28 points with 18 rebounds in Game 3, while LeBron James and Austin Reaves each scored 23. James added 12 assists. On defense, the Lakers watched the Nuggets shoot 60.0 percent in the fourth quarter. Denver also recorded 30 assists and committed just six turnovers.

"I can't speak for the guys right now because I don't know what's going on through all their minds right now, but I still (have belief)," James said. "So you know, it's time to go right back home and start to refuel and start the treatment process and recovery process and get ready for Monday. My mindset is always locked in as if it's Game 1."

--Field Level Media

Denver Nuggets
Los Angeles Lakers

Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Recap MAY 22TH 2023

Nikola Jokic compiled 30 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists as the visiting Denver Nuggets advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history with a 113-111 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.

Jokic, the NBA MVP in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, set a record for total triple-doubles in a single postseason with eight. He had been tied with Wilt Chamberlain, who had seven for the Philadelphia 76ers in 1967.

Jamal Murray scored 25 points and Aaron Gordon added 22 for the Nuggets, who trailed by 15 points at halftime and weathered a 31-point first half from Lakers star LeBron James.

Denver swept the series after losing once in the first round to the Minnesota Timberwolves and twice in the second round to the Phoenix Suns.

The Western Conference's top seed will now await the winner of the Eastern Conference finals, in which the Miami Heat have a 3-0 lead over the Boston Celtics. There has never been a pair of conference-finals sweeps in NBA history.

Game 1 of the NBA Finals is scheduled for June 1 in Denver or Boston.

James finished with 40 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, cooling off from a 21-point first quarter when he was 7 of 9 from the field and 4 of 4 from 3-point range. He played all but 4.3 seconds in the game while setting a playoff career high for points during any half.

James' last-second shot attempt inside the paint to tie the game was blocked by Gordon.

Anthony Davis scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for Los Angeles, while Austin Reaves had 17 points, Dennis Schroder added 13 and Rui Hachimura contributed 10.

The Nuggets opened the second half with a 9-2 run to pull within 75-67. They got to within 79-78 with 6:27 remaining in the third quarter on a jumper from Murray and pulled in front 83-81 on a three-point play by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with 4:39 remaining in the third.

Denver led 94-89 entering the final period, with Jokic already having recorded his triple-double.

The Lakers tied the game 102-102 on a putback dunk by Davis with 5:02 remaining. However, Murray was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three foul shots, the Lakers had consecutive misses from 3-point range and Gordon's dunk put Denver up 107-102 with 3:34 left.

Los Angeles came back again to tie the game 111-111 on a pair of Davis free throws with 1:13 remaining before Jokic put the Nuggets back on top 113-111 on a layup with 51.7 seconds remaining. Neither team scored again.

--Field Level Media