The Western Conference Finals shift to L.A. for Game 3 tonight, with the Lakers down 0-2 against the surging Denver Nuggets and in need of some home cooking.
While the Nuggets feel like they’re not getting enough attention in this series, there’s no question that Nikola Jokic was the story in Game 1 with his 34-point triple-double masterpiece, and Jamal Murray took the Game 2 headlines with a 23-point fourth quarter. Now the Nuggets will try to take a stranglehold on the series, with LeBron James and the Lakers in backs-against-the-wall mode.
There’s no such thing as moral victories in the NBA at this time of year, but L.A. can take some positives from the two losses in Denver’s altitude (both were one-possession games late in the fourth quarter). As we look at NBA player props for Game 3, this series has served up one shootout and one defense-first slugfest, but I’m counting on the offensive stars to show up tonight.
Nuggets vs Lakers Game 3 player prop picks
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
Nuggets vs Lakers Game 3 props
MPJ comes to play
The heroics from Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have understandably been the big story this week, but don’t sleep on Michael Porter Jr.’s steady shooting as a third option. MPJ is averaging 15.5 points a game and shooting 50% from the field so far in the Western Conference Finals, including four triples in Thursday night’s win.
I like this Porter Jr. points prop on a night when I expect the Nuggets to need some extra scoring punch to unlock a desperate Lakers defense. The 24-year-old’s game has travelled well this season — he’s actually been fractionally more prolific on the road, with 17.6 points per game and 42% shooting from 3-point range. Game 3 has been productive for MPJ in these playoffs — he poured in 25 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves in this spot, and 21 points in Phoenix.
With the Lakers sending their bigger, long-armed defenders at Jokic, Porter Jr. is often matched up against an L.A. guard — and he can feast there with his ability to shoot over smaller defenders.
PICK: Porter Jr. Over 15.5 points (-115)
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Reaves triples up again
Austin Reaves is heading for a monster payday in free agency this summer, and the Lakers continue to lean on their young guard in big spots. Back at Crypto.com Arena, the stage is set for another high-scoring contest — and I see Reaves doing more heavy lifting alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, especially if LeBron takes the defensive challenge of guarding Jokic for long periods again.
Reaves has been on a fearless tear from downtown during L.A.’s playoff run, and he’s made 10 of his 18 triples through the first two games of this series. Going further back, he’s 20-for-35 from deep in his last five outings. He’s fresh off a 22-point night in which he attempted 16 field goals — tied for his highest number of attempts in the 2023 playoffs.
This prop jumps off the screen, with Reaves finishing with three or more 3-pointers in each of his last five games. As the Denver defense collapses to slow down LeBron and Davis, the open looks should be there for Reaves again in Game 3 — and he’s knocking down 42% of his 3-pointers at home this season.
PICK: Reaves Over 2.5 3s (+145)
Joker’s dealing dimes
The Lakers are throwing all kinds of matchups and schemes at Jokic, but there’s no stopping the two-time MVP. That said, he was less efficient in Game 2 by his high standards (9-for-21 from the field), and I prefer his assists and rebounding props for tonight.
I’m riding with the Over on this Jokic assists prop. It’s a number that he’s cleared in his last six games — and extended postseason minutes have helped him routinely breeze past his regular season average of 9.8 assists per game. He piled up 40 assists in the three road games against the Suns in the last round.
With all eyes on Jokic for every Denver possession, I expect him to be in playmaking mode to punish double teams. Sparked by their big man’s passing, the Nuggets shot 55% in Game 1 behind Jokic’s 14 assists — and another similar performance could be in the cards tonight.
PICK: Jokic Over 10.5 assists (-110)
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