3 Things the Lakers Must Do in Game 3 to Get First Series Win

The Lakers have to fix these three areas if they want to make this a series against the Denver Nuggets.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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The Los Angeles Lakers are about to face off against the Denver Nuggets in Game 3 of their Western Conference first-round series. LeBron James & Co. have to win on Thursday night to avoid a 3-0 deficit that would make a consecutive sweep at the hands of Nikola Jokic a real possibility.

The Lakers have a few things they can take from their performances in Denver. They competed well and had a double-digit lead in both of the games. If they can sustain that performance for 48 minutes, they should be able to get a win or two against the Nuggets at home. But, they have to be better in these three areas. Let's take a look.

1. Continue Attacking Nikola Jokic in the Pick & Roll

The Lakers found some success in the first half of Game 2 running the pick-and-roll against Nikola Jokic. The two-time MVP, who was guarding Anthony Davis, struggled getting out on the perimeter and then recovering back to AD as the roll man. AD finished that half with 11/12 shooting and 24 points while the Lakers had a whopping 17 assists.

Things shifted in the second half. The Nuggets put Aaron Gordon on Anthony Davis instead and moved Jokic onto Rui Hachimura. This turned the spigot off for the Lakers. Davis finished the second half with eight points on 3/7 shooting and Los Angeles had seven assists as a team.

The Lakers also stopped executing and running plays once they got the 20-point lead in the second half. Instead, they decided to run down the clock, creating a ton of possessions where LeBron James dribbled the air out of the ball and got into their actions very late.

Darvin Ham needs to make sure that doesn't happen again. The Lakers need to keep attacking Jokic the way they did in the first half. If he is guarding Hachimura, that's fine, he needs to screen for the ball-handler to get Jokic involved in the action. At the bare minimum, the Lakers can tire him out on defense to hopefully reduce his effectiveness on the offensive end.