The Denver Nuggets enter Game 3 of the Western Conference finals down 2-0, and while it's familiar territory for them in the playoffs, it's not an ideal position to be in against a dominant Lakers team. In Game 2, Denver fell as far behind as 16 points, but was able to storm back in the second half. Unfortunately, a game-winning shot by Anthony Davis put away the Nuggets and Nikola Jokic, who was the catalyst for Denver's comeback.
Denver has struggled to put together complete games throughout the postseason, and although this team is comfortable playing from behind, Jokic wants to see his team respond far better when they're down big against the Lakers.
"I mean, we are here [as] underdogs," Jokic said. "That is how you say, underdogs? I mean, we need to fight. That's our only chance. They were up 15, isn't it, or 16? I don't know how much they were up. We could just call it a game and quit. I think we just want to give the fight. Maybe it's going to be 30 points, but fight needs to be there, and effort."
Jokic and Jamal Murray both played incredibly well in Game 2, combining for 55 points, while rookie Michael Porter Jr. contributed 15 points off the bench, but when you dig yourself in a huge hole like the Nuggets are known to do, it becomes incredibly difficult to get back in the game. It also doesn't help that outside of those three players, no one else on the Nuggets roster has scored in double figures in the first two games of this series.
Denver needs significantly more out of players like Gary Harris, who has struggled mightily this postseason. A year ago in the playoffs, Harris was averaging 14 points a game on 46 percent from the field along with four rebounds. Through 11 playoff games this season, Harris is putting up just 8.3 points on 39 percent from the field. He's averaging nearly two steals a game, but he needs to be more efficient on the offensive side of the ball.
Another area where the Nuggets stand to improve going forward in this series is turnovers. Through the first two games, Denver has coughed the ball up a combined 37 times. That's not ideal when you have LeBron James and Davis on the other end, who can make you pay for turning the ball over.
Jokic and the Nuggets know they're underdogs. In fact, they weren't expected to be in the Western Conference finals after shocking the Clippers in the semifinal round. Still, there are adjustments this team could make to ensure that this series isn't quick work for the Lakers on their way to the NBA Finals.