5 Bold Predictions for Game 3 of Pivotal Lakers vs. Nuggets First-Round Series

Rich Kurtzman@@RichKurtzman Senior Analyst IJanuary 18, 2017

5 Bold Predictions for Game 3 of Pivotal Lakers vs. Nuggets First-Round Series

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    In the NBA playoffs, a win-or-go-home environment, the Nuggets have their backs against the wall, down 0-2 to the Los Angeles Lakers.


    The first game of the series was an ugly 103-88 loss for Denver, in which the Nuggets couldn't get out and run in transition as they had all regular season long. No doubt the young and inexperienced team was nervous, and the jitters showed early with 14 points in the first quarter and throughout the game.


    Game 2 was a better performance for Denver overall, though they still fell 104-100. The Nuggets couldn't overcome Kobe Bryant's prolific scoring and Andrew Bynum's big-time, big-man play, but they should have learned a few lessons along the way.


    If the Nuggets want to win Game 3 and give themselves a chance in the series, they have to be bold now.


    Here are five bold predictions for the Nuggets—Lakers first-round Game 3 matchup.

George Karl Won't Start Kosta Koufos

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    The Lakers are armed with their twin towers of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, so George Karl decided to start Kosta Koufos the first two games of the series.


    The only problem is that Kofous didn't hardly start down the stretch for the Nuggets, so why start him when the games matter the most?


    Koufos has averaged a mere one point and five rebounds in 12 minutes, and it's obvious that his basketball IQ isn't to playoff-ready level yet.


    Koufos could be called upon for a few minutes here and there, but he's not able to stop or even slow down Bynum, so there's no reason to start him.

JaVale McGee Will Have a Breakout Game

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    In Koufos' place, Karl should start JaVale McGee at center.


    Yes, this will only be McGee's third playoff game, but he proved in Game 2 that he can match up with Bynum in the height department.


    His length allows him to grab boards above opponents and affect shots just like Bynum has all series so far.


    McGee grabbed nine boards and scored five points while recording a stellar six blocks Tuesday night; giving him the start should only bolster the 24-year-old center's confidence.


    If he does start and get even more minutes than in Game 2, look for McGee to record a double-double, and possibly, come close to a triple-double for Denver.

Danilo Gallinari Will Finally Go off in the Playoffs

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    Danilo Gallinari has played decently in the first two games of the series but not as well as the Nuggets need him to play.


    Gallo scored 19 and 13, with eight and four rebounds respectfully in those contests, simply not enough production from the Italian sweet-shooting small forward.


    Not only does he have to sink threes when he's open, which he hasn't done (1-4), but Gallinari's got to gallop down the lane and aggressively take the ball to the rack and draw foul calls in the Nuggets' favor. It will help balance out the calls and give the Nuggets free opportunities at points.


    Simply stated, the Nuggets need Gallinari to take over in Game 3, and he will.

Ty Lawson Will Shine in Denver

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    Lawson flat-out sunk in Game 1, going 3-11 shooting, scoring only seven points all game long.


    For Denver's leading scorer, he left a lot to be desired and made up for it with a 25-point, seven-assist night in Game 2.


    Lawson's going to have an even better game Friday night, shooting on the home nets at Pepsi Center.


    He'll have to if the Nuggets want to win their first game of the postseason.


    When the team is struggling in transition, the best thing Lawson can do is take off down the court, running coast-to-coast and to the hoop. The team can't afford him being passive, in his scoring or leadership, and much will rest on the third-year point guard's shoulders Friday.

The Nuggets Will Win

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    That's right, the Nuggets will win Friday night and bring the series to 2-1 in favor of LA.


    Denver will win by getting out and running the floor, like they did much better in Game 2, wearing down the older Lakers and scoring easily.


    The Nuggets will also have to hit open jumpers—something they've done without consistency so far in the series. Gallinari, Lawson, Al Harrington and Arron Afflalo need to knock down threes when they have clean looks, which are hard to come by against the defensively disciplined Lakers.


    And Denver has to be more aggressive, taking the ball inside, dishing it off to others if Bynum is in the way or going through him to draw fouls and force him to sit.


    On defense, active hands and high-energy play will give them the best chance of winning while team-rebounding is key.


    The Nuggets can win Friday, and they'll have to in order to hang in the series and not go down 3-0.


    Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist actively seeking a career in journalism. Along with being your Denver Nuggets Featured Columnist, Rich is the Denver Broncos and CSU Rams Examiner and Kurtzman also writes for Blake Street Bulletin, Stadium Journey, and Mile High Hoops.

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