Lakers vs. Nuggets: Los Angeles C Andrew Bynum Must Elevate His Play in Game 4

Jeff GrantContributor IMay 5, 2012

DENVER, CO - MAY 04:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles the ball against JaVale McGee #34 of the Denver Nuggets in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on May 4, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 99-84 as the Lakers hold a 2-1 advantage in the series. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers (2-1) and Denver Nuggets (1-2) will continue their best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series on Sunday night at the Pepsi Center, with the opening tipoff scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT.

Las Vegas oddsmakers have established the Lakers as two-point road underdogs, while the total has held steady at its opening number of 201.

Los Angeles suffered a 99-84 setback in Game 3 on Friday night, failing to adjust to the altitude in the Mile High City, especially All-Star center Andrew Bynum. He missed all three of his first-half shots, and the team was unable to recover from a 16-point halftime deficit.

Bynum finished with 18 points, nearly matching his 20-point scoring average in two regular-season games in Denver this season.

The Lakers' struggles on the road may push this series to six or seven games, as they are 15-19 away from the Staples Center. It's quite puzzling due to the franchise's 57-41 record in that situation the previous two years when including the postseason.

Denver was on cruise control thanks to a 28-2 first-half run in getting back into the series, but they will likely face a more prepared opponent in this affair. The Nuggets are also just 3-8 all time at home against the Lakers in the playoffs.

The same type of defensive intensity is a must in hopes of winning two games in a row, with the Nuggets winning three of four games this year after allowing 85 points or less.

I'm going to back the Lakers due to their 8-2 record after a loss by 10 or more points this season.

Pick: Los Angeles Lakers plus-2 

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