Lakers are a Mason Plumlee blunder away from trailing 2-1 — concerning?

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Lakers very well could be down 2-1 in the Western Conference Finals.

The Denver Nuggets thoroughly outplayed a lax version of the Los Angeles Lakers for three quarters and staved off a late surge in the fourth quarter to hang on and win last night’s Game 3, 114-106.

So although it’s a bit of a gimmicky hypothetical statement, it may be fair to say the Lakers are a Mason Plumlee defensive blunder away from being down 2-1 in this series rather than up 2-1. We all vividly recall the riveting NFL Sunday briefly interrupted by a cold-blooded buzzer-beating game-winning three by Anthony Davis in Game 2.

As impressive as 6’10 AD’s game-winning three with a great contest was, Nuggets center Mason Plumlee inexplicably leaving him to double team a stationary, passive LeBron James, who was already fronted by Jerami Grant, could’ve easily prevented it and gave Denver the win.

So should Lakers fans be concerned over this reality that Denver has outplayed their boys for a longer duration of this series than anyone could have foreseen? The answer is in fact yes.

Well, sort of. If you’re rating the concern level on a scale from 1-10, it’s no higher than 2.5 or 3. The Lakers are clearly still a problematic matchup for Denver stylistically on top of having the two best players left in the bubble playoffs by a country mile.

However, last night taught us one key component to the series that Laker fans should keep in mind. The Nuggets got a surprising 26 point contribution from Jerami Grant on 7-11 shooting. Young offensive sparks Michael Porter Jr and Monte Morris also combined for 25 points. Outings that show the Nuggets depth around stars Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic is at least noteworthy.

On the flip side, while LeBron and ‘AD’ did their thing on offense combining for 57 points, the ancillary scoring options were severely lacking. Kentavious Caldwell Pope and Kyle Kuzma were the only other double-digit scorers. And for an offensively challenged ‘KCP’, it may be far-fetched to think he can keep a mere 12 point outing up moving forward.

That’s an issue that may repeat itself and it’s one to monitor moving forward. The other glaring issue the Lakers ran into last night that fans shouldn’t expect to continue is the rebounding woes. Davis recorded just two boards and none through his first 31 minutes, and three combined boards from other Laker bigs Dwight Howard, JaVale McGee, and Kyle Kuzma is flat out disrespectful effort to Laker nation.

Expect the sense of urgency, tenacity, and physicality to be kicked up a couple of notches come tomorrow for what will be a telling game 4. The Lakers will still win this series in six games at most, and are the heaviest title favorite possible, as mentioned in my previous piece.

Next. Lakers need to fix the rebounding woes in Game 4. dark

But, the aforementioned scoring depth issues Los Angeles faces paints a fine line between a heavy, likely title favorite and invincible title pick when healthy like the 2017 and 2018 Golden State Warriors. It’d be foolish to completely count out these Nuggets, who seem to unlock a fearless, loosey-goosey, most dangerous version of themselves once they’re down two games in these playoffs.