The Los Angeles Lakers are 48 minutes away from elimination, and with their backs against the wall, they look to win at least one game in their home arena this series. We’ll preview tonight’s game before going over my best prop play for the action.
Many, including myself, believed the Lakers would come out ultra-aggressive in game three and show they were not entirely out of the series, but after going down by 12 in the first quarter, that notion went out the window. LA made up for that in the second quarter and went into halftime only down three, but it still felt like they never had control of the game.
Denver closed out the game just as they started, as they won the fourth quarter 35-26. The loss brought the Lakers' defensive efficiency rating for the series to (120.9), and Jamal Murray is the primary reason for that. Denver’s point guard has scored 37 points in two straight games and has consistently been toying with the Lakers' defense. Los Angeles has been solid at slowing the pick and roll this postseason, but Murray has consistently exposed them in that area.
Murray has an effective field goal percentage of 63.5% out of the pick-and-roll this postseason, and with the Lakers focused on slowing down Jokic, the scoring opportunities have come in bunches for Murray. Not only have the scoring chances been plentiful, but Murray’s scoring has also opened the floor even more for the Nuggets' impressive group of role players.
Guys like Bruce Brown and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have knocked down the shots they are being given, making it incredibly difficult for the Lakers' defense to many any adjustments. I mentioned it at the start of the series, but this is the deepest team in terms of scoring that LA has faced this postseason, and it has shown. Denver’s role players have been able to diminish the Lakers' scoring runs by making timely shots which keeps them in the game long enough for Murray or Jokic to get hot for a stretch.
For my prop play in this one, I’ll be targeting Dennis Schroder to go under his point total of 8.5, which is priced at (-138) on FanDuel. The Lakers guard has not scored more than six points in the past four games and has seen his usage rate dip drastically since the start of this series, which I expect to be the case again tonight.
Schroder had a 16.5% usage rate in the conference semi-finals, but that is down to 11.4% this series, and with the Lakers backs against the wall tonight, I think they’ll rely primarily on their stars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. When he does get his opportunities, Schroder’s shooting numbers have not been strong this series, as he is 6-17 from the field and 2-7 from three.
This postseason, 63.3% of Schroder’s field goal attempts have been from two-point range, and 88.5% of his two-point field goals made have been unassisted. With the Nuggets holding opponents to a 37.9% field goal percentage on isolation and the Lakers looking to get their scoring elsewhere, this series has not been a good matchup for Schroder offensively, and I don’t see that changing.
Dennis Schroder Under 8.5 Points (-138)