Lakers Vs. Nuggets Preview: Looking To Extend Series Back To L.A. In Game 5
LeBron James, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lakers, Nuggets
Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers escaped elimination by winning Game 4 at Crypto.com Arena and now can make things interesting by winning Game 5 against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a series, but L.A. could make the defending champions work overtime to try and advance to the second round.

A catalyst for the purple and gold winning on Saturday was the play of Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell. Both guards scored 21 points and were looking for their shots early, something that needs to be replicated if the Lakers want to extend the series.

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis doing their parts to keep the team in these games, the supporting cast is crucial in picking up wins against Denver. Now that the dreaded losing streak is over, perhaps this gives L.A. more confidence heading in a hostile environment.

With Christian Wood making his long-awaited return to the team after being available in Game 4, more reinforcements are on the way. Jarred Vanderbilt was upgraded to questionable before Game 5 and is making his return from a right midfoot sprain. However, Vanderbilt could face the same fate as Wood, being listed as active, but not seeing the floor in a must-win game with the season on the line.

Should the defensive-minded forward see the floor, it will be intriguing to see what kind of game shape he is in. But expectations should be lowered as he has not played since Feb. 1 and could be guarding some high-quality players in Jamal Murray or Michael Porter Jr.

For the Nuggets, Murray injured his calf during Game 4, resulting in him being listed as questionable for Game 5. All things considered, he is going to give it a go to help his team close things out on their home floor.

Murray has struggled to shoot the ball well this series and what seems to be a serious calf injury could continue to hinder his scoring. The Lakers should test him on the defensive end by putting him in actions to try and wear him out.

However, it does not matter if role players do not show up and play well for L.A. They must continue the trend of building an early lead and maintaining it. The expectation is a loud arena in Denver, so holding the rope and not getting overwhelmed is another underrated aspect of keeping the season alive for the Lakers.

Los Angeles Lakers (1-3) vs. Denver Nuggets (3-1)

7:00 p.m. PT, April 29, 2024
Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado
TV: TNT, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Austin Reaves
SF: LeBron James
PF: Rui Hachimura
C: Anthony Davis

Key Reserves: Taurean Prince, Spencer Dinwiddie, Gabe Vincent, Christian Wood, Jarred Vanderbilt

Projected Nuggets Starting Lineup:

PG: Jamal Murray
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Michael Porter Jr.
PF: Aaron Gordon
C: Nikola Jokic

Key Reserves: Reggie Jackson, Peyton Watson, Christian Braun

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