Where to watch Game 3, time, TV channel, live stream online, prediction, odds

The Los Angeles Lakers enter Thursday night’s Game 3 against the Denver Nuggets in desperate need of a win. The Lakers, who blew a 20-point lead in Monday’s Game 2, find themselves down 0-2 in the first-round playoff series and without answers of how to notch a win against the reigning champion Nuggets. Denver has won 10 games in a row against L.A., including six consecutive victories in the postseason.

Jamal Murray was the hero for the Nuggets in Game 2, hitting a buzzer-beating game-winner over Anthony Davis to give Denver a 101-99 win in a game the Lakers led nearly the entire night. It was a demoralizing loss for the Lakers, who will host Games 3 and 4 in L.A., needing at least one win to keep their season alive.

“It’s all about sustainability,” LeBron James told reporters after Game 2. “It doesn’t matter what you can do throughout the first 47.5 minutes. You got to close the game, which we didn’t do. We got to do a better job of that. But some of the things that we’ve done over the first couple games, we’re very excited and happy about those. But we got to do a better job of closing it.”

Here’s what to know about Thursday night’s Game 3:

Lakers vs. Nuggets — Game 3 info
Time: 10 p.m. ET | Date: Thursday, April 25
Location: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles
TV channel: TNT | Live stream: TNT app
Odds: Lakers -1, O/U: 217

Nuggets: It’s been a good start to the playoffs for the champs as they fought back for a Game 2 victory and kept home-court advantage in this first-round series. Nikola Jokic is nearly averaging a triple-double in the series with 29.5 points, 16 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game so far. Murray has only shot 37.5% from the floor, but he hit the biggest shot of the series. Michael Porter Jr. has added 41 points in the two games, while the Nuggets have limited the Lakers to 101 points per game.

Lakers: The Lakers’ stars have shined in the series. LeBron has been sharp, with 26.5 points and 10 assists per game. Davis has been the highest scorer of the series with 64 points so far. And D’Angelo Russell had a solid Game 2 after struggling in Game 1. Still it hasn’t equaled a victory, and the Lakers will need more production from players like Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura if they want to turn this into a competitive series.

The Nuggets just keep finding ways to beat the Lakers, especially in close games. It seems like if the Lakers are going to take a game against the Nuggets, they need to take it and make it a runaway before fourth-quarter Jokic can get his team back in the game. Don’t expect that to happen in Game 3 as Denver makes it 11 in a row and pushes L.A. to the brink of elimination: Pick: Nuggets +1

Mitchell Robinson leaves 76ers’ Game 3 win in walking boot

No NBA team has ever overcome a 3-0 playoff deficit to win a series, and Joel Embiid seemingly came into Game 2 against the New York Knicks knowing that. A home loss would have dropped his Philadelphia 76ers into a 3-0 deficit, and Embiid posted a new career playoff high 50 points in Philadelphia’s Game 3 win over New York to ensure that wouldn’t happen. Embiid’s performance was incredible, but it also came with several controversial moments in the first half.

In the first half, Embiid committed three notable fouls. Two of them were committed in the same general region against different Knicks. In the first quarter, Embiid was assessed an offensive foul for seemingly hitting Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein in the groin. In the second quarter, on a shot attempt, Embiid swung his leg upward unnecessarily and hit New York’s other center, Mitchell Robinson, in the groin as well.

Third controversial Embiid play of the night pic.twitter.com/vyYv01Q8h6

— Sam Quinn (@SamQuinnCBS) April 26, 2024
Those plays, however, paled in comparison to another foul Embiid committed against Robinson. In the first quarter, Embiid got knocked to the ground by OG Anunoby near the basket. Anunoby passed the ball to Robinson, but Embiid, from the ground, grabbed Robinson’s leg and pulled him down to ground as well. He was assessed only a flagrant-1 foul for the play.

Should Joel Embiid have been ejected for this?


— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) April 26, 2024
After the game, Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo called the play “dirty.” Other teammates called it out, too.

Donte DiVincenzo called Joel Embiid’s Flagrant 1 on Mitchell Robinson a ‘dirty’ play. Isaiah Hartenstein said it ‘wasn’t a basketball play.’ Josh Hart said it was a reckless play and Knicks were fortunate that Robinson avoided a severe ankle injury.

— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 26, 2024
Embiid, meanwhile, said he was trying to protect himself.

“It’s unfortunate,” Embiid said. “I didn’t mean to hurt anybody. In those situations I gotta protect myself because I’ve been in way too many situations where I’m the recipient of the bad end of it. It was unfortunate.”

The NBA’s official rulebook determines that a flagrant foul penalty 2, which triggers an automatic ejection, is to be called “if contact committed against a player, with or without the ball, is interpreted to be unnecessary and excessive.” Obviously, this is a subjective definition. However, pulling a player’s foot from the ground while he’s attempting to jump not only seems excessively dangerous, but it is hardly a basketball play.

Zach Zarba, the referee’s crew chief on Thursday night, commented to a pool reporter after the game about the decision of calling the foul a flagrant 1 instead of a flagrant 2.

“In this instance, the crew was unanimous along with the replay center official in Secaucus that this foul was unnecessary but did not rise to the level of a flagrant 2,” Zarba said. “He unnecessary contact rose to the level of a flagrant 1 but we were unanimous that this did not rise to the level of excessive contact, unnecessary and excessive, which would have been a flagrant 2 ejection. That’s why we kept it a flagrant 1.”

Robinson played through pain in the first half, but had a visible limp at points. He attempted to warm up to start the second half, but started the second half in the locker room and was eventually ruled out due to a left ankle injury. It is unclear what an impact the Embiid play had on him, as he was already listed as questionable due to an ankle injury entering Game 3, but it obviously did not help. Robinson left the arena in a walking boot after the game.

Asked about the flagrant foul after the game, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau responded “which one?”

Tom Thibodeau on the flagrant foul called on Joel Embiid:

“Which one? The one they called, or the one they didn’t call? Just want to make sure we have clarity on that.” pic.twitter.com/qlrkqYDWar

— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) April 26, 2024
Whether a foul is dirty or simply part of the physical nature of the game is ultimately subjective. But Embiid — who, per ESPN, is dealing with a mild case of Bell’s palsy — got caught in that gray area three times in the first half alone. If nothing else, he dialed up the intensity in an already chippy series to an 11. Embiid and the Sixers will attempt to tie the series at 2-2 on Sunday, and when this series does shift back to New York for Game 5, Embiid can expect a very cold welcome.

The Lakers ran back a roster the Nuggets swept and somehow expected a different result a year later

Los Angeles Lakers fans spent the summer of 2023 calling the Western Conference Finals “the closest sweep in NBA history.” Well, that isn’t quite true. Losing four straight games by only 24 combined points is pretty rare, but it wasn’t even the closest sweep of this decade. The 2022 Brooklyn Nets lost in four to the Boston Celtics by just 18 points. Within a year, those Nets had blown up.

The Lakers? Not so much. They largely ran back last season’s roster, swapping out Dennis Schroder for Gabe Vincent and cycling through a few new minimum-salary free agents, but otherwise retaining the bulk of the team that Denver had just swept. Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell and Jarred Vanderbilt all got expensive multi-year deals.

No future draft picks were traded for immediate help. The theory seemed to be that internal development could flip the not-quite-closest sweep in NBA history into a win. Here’s a not-quite-a-secret flaw to that theory, though: there’s no such thing as a close sweep.

The moments when these teams have been closest to their true selves have invariably favored Denver. They played 11 clutch minutes against one another and the Nuggets won those minutes by 15 points. Sure you could fake a close score against Denver by beating them in the early going and winning the non-Jokic minutes, but when Denver starts to take things seriously? Game over.

The Lakers have experienced that phenomenon firsthand this season. They played seven more clutch minutes against Denver in the regular season and lost them by 17 points. They’re not even getting to clutch minutes this time around because Denver is turning it on earlier. The Nuggets have outscored the Lakers by 29 in three third quarters so far in this year’s series. Not-so-surprisingly, the Lakers are on their way towards another not-as-close sweep.

Most of the “why’s” that applied to last year’s matchup still apply to this one. Russell scored 25 points in last year’s series. He’s shooting 14-of-43 from the field in this year’s rematch and just went scoreless in Game 3. The Lakers fielded trade offers for him at the deadline but elected not to move him.

Additionally, they have no reliable point-of-attack defense that doesn’t compromise their offense. The supposed answer to that problem was Vincent, who himself lost a gentleman’s sweep to Denver a year ago in the NBA Finals as a member of the Miami Heat. He technically “held” Jamal Murray to 21.4 points on 45-39-93 shooting, but remember, Murray also averaged 10 assists in that series. Murray more than did his part against the Heat last year. Even after a slow start, he’s held up his end of the bargain against the Lakers this time around.

And then there’s the Nikola Jokic problem. That isn’t exclusive to the Lakers. It’s just more of an issue for them when one of the prerequisites to contending for them is elite center defense. That’s part of the reason why they pay Anthony Davis max money. Unfortunately, Jokic eats him alive one-on-one whenever they match up. Nobody is suggesting the Lakers bench or trade Davis, but remember, they did defeat Jokic in a playoff series in 2020. They did so with Dwight Howard as a key Jokic defender. Yet, the only other big men the Lakers rostered this season were Jaxson Hayes and Christian Wood, both minimum-salary signings. They gave themselves no alternatives.

How fixable was all of this? That’s hard to say. The Lakers sniffed around Russell replacements, though it’s unclear how close they ever came to trading for someone like Dejounte Murray. There were paths to starrier additions like Kyrie Irving or Fred VanVleet during the offseason. An addition like that would have meant sacrificing all of the depth they’ve accumulated to clear out cap space. Whether or not that was worthwhile is debatable. More so, Howard-level post-defenders don’t grow on trees. The Lakers got lucky that a future Hall of Famer happened to be out of vogue when they signed him in 2019.

Perimeter defense is a more fixable problem. It just isn’t a trait the current Lakers seem to value all that much. Notice how they’re so frequently linked to big stars like Trae Young and Donovan Mitchell rather than lower-maintenance 3-and-D wings. The Lakers planted that flag when they effectively swapped out Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (now killing them in Denver!), Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso to get Russell Westbrook in 2021.

That’s the original sin here. Not necessarily the Westbrook trade itself, but the philosophy that went into it. It’s easy to forget this now, but the Lakers actually did have a team that beat Denver in the playoffs. The 2020 Lakers beat every team they played. They did it by surrounding James and Davis with the sort of two-way role players that help make Denver so dangerous. In Caldwell-Pope’s case, that is literal. Caruso has become the consensus best guard defender in the NBA. Kuzma has a $100 million deal in Washington. Howard, JaVale McGee, Danny Green and Avery Bradley were essentials to that roster that were never replaced. The Lakers wanted a top-heavy, offense-first roster and they got one.

There’s a cruel irony to this. The Lakers tore down the team that actually beat the Nuggets and won a championship… but refused to do the same to the team that the Nuggets crushed. They set themselves up for this embarrassment last summer. They doubled down on it at the trade deadline. The Lakers saw their team get swept by Denver a year ago, refused to change it, and now, well, they’re sleeping in the bed that they made. You can’t do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.