Following a heartbreaking defeat Sunday night, the Denver Nuggets trail the Los Angeles Lakers 2-0 in the Western Conference finals. Anthony Davis knocked down a triple as the clock expired, leaving the Nuggets stunned as they fell 105-103.
It was a tough defeat, coming in a game they fought back into and were in a position to win. Now, trailing the top-seeded Lakers by two games, Denver has little room for mistakes like the ones they made late in game two. For the Nuggets to get back in this series, or even make it a series, the Nuggets need more from their veterans; specifically Gary Harris and Paul Millsap.
Millsap has been a solid veteran presence for the Nuggets all season, doing what’s asked of him and playing good complimentary basketball. Unfortunately, Denver needs more out of him if they want a chance to get back into this series. In just over 24 minutes per game this series, Millsap is averaging 5.5 points and 7 rebounds. The numbers don’t seem that bad, given his role all season, but he needs to help make up for the scoring Denver lacks against a defensive machine in the Lakers.
His defense has been solid, as has been the case all season, but the problem has been on the offensive side. Denver has three players averaging double-digit points per contest, with Jokic and Murray having to do much of the heavy lifting. A couple of spot-up threes, post-ups when mismatched, and trips to the charity stripe would help take some of the burdens of the Nuggets two-star players.
Harris has struggled mightily through the first two games of this series. Mostly known as a knockdown shooter, Harris has been anything but that so far. He’s shooting just 3-13 from the field, including 2-7 from deep.
Over the first two contests, he has scored a total of 8 points in 50 minutes on the court. He’s a proven shooter, and Denver is going to need him to start connecting if they want to keep up with the Lakers. Both Millsap and Harris put the effort required in defensively, but vs L.A. that won’t be enough.
Jokic and Murray are likely already exhausted, and will only grow more tired and frustrated as the series moves on. It’s on these veterans to offer the stars the help they need to make this a series. If not, the Nuggets will be on their way home sooner rather than later.