3 keys for the Lakers in Game 2 versus the Nuggets

Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals didn’t exactly go the way the Los Angeles Lakers hoped it would. After taking the first game of the two prior series on the road, they fell to the Denver Nuggets behind a gigantic game from center Nikola Jokic.

However, they emerged from that contest with some tangible hope and even optimism.

After falling behind by 18 points at halftime and getting outrebounded 36-13 in the first two quarters, L.A. kept eating away at its deficit throughout the second half and got as close as three points toward the end before losing 132-126.

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It started to find a few strategies that appeared to work in the fourth quarter, and if it keeps them up while addressing a few other things, it could come back home over the weekend with a 1-1 series split and the home-court advantage.

Outrebound the Nuggets

Rebounding was the Lakers’ most glaring weakness in Game 1, and it was unusual to see this new-look squad get beaten so badly on the boards.

At least a good part of it was due to a lack of effort and intensity in the first half. However, they did outrebound Denver 17-11 in the second half when it seemed they started to wake up.

Controlling the boards should help them defensively by limiting the Nuggets’ second-chance opportunities. In addition, it should result in more fast-break opportunities for L.A. It scored just 13 points on the break in Game 1 and will need more than that each game to win this series.


Contain Jamal Murray

Jokic is going to get his points, but his 14 assists in Game 1 were way too many, and a few of them resulted in baskets for Murray.

The guard ended up with 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting, and he especially hurt the Lakers on shots taken after dribble hand-offs and shots where he came off ball screens.

Many feel it is more important for them to hold down Murray offensively than it is to hold down Jokic offensively. It would be better for the Lakers if Murray is held to around 20 points or under and Jokic would have to score at least 40 while taking a lot of shots to defeat them.


D'Angelo Russell must shoot well

Russell is very important to L.A.’s chances in this series and in the playoffs overall. But he shot just 4-of-11 overall and 0-of-3 from downtown on Tuesday, and as a result, he didn’t play in the fourth quarter.

He has played in peaks and valleys throughout the postseason, and no matter how many points he scores, the Lakers need him to be efficient. They could also use some more playmaking from him — he had just three assists in Game 1.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire