The Los Angeles Lakers Game 4 matchup with the Denver Nuggets in the 2023 Western Conference Finals has become a “win or go home” scenario for L.A. Ahead of Monday’s Lakers-Nuggets game, it’s time to make some Lakers Game 4 predictions.

The Lakers were pushed to the brink of elimination when the Nuggets took Game 3 with a 119-108 victory Saturday night. Once again, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray outplayed LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Murray helped Denver take an early lead by scoring 17 first-quarter points. Jokic put Los Angeles away with 15 points in the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets’ 3-0 series lead doesn’t accurately depict how close the Western Conference Finals has been. The Lakers had a chance to steal the series opener when they had the ball trailing by just three points late in the fourth quarter. Los Angeles blew an 11-point lead in the second half of Game 2. The Lakers led the Nuggets with fewer than eight minutes remaining in Game 3. Can Los Angeles finally put away Denver in Game 4 and extend the series?

If Los Angeles can make a few adjustments and prevent Denver from getting off to another hot start, the Lakers can keep their 2023 playoff run alive. Let’s take a look at our Lakers Game 4 predictions.

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3. Los Angeles Lakers G D’Angelo Russell won’t play in Game 4

The easiest adjustment for the Lakers to make in Game 4 is to bench D’Angelo Russell. The points guard has crushed Los Angles in the Western Conference Finals, particularly in Game 3. In just 20 minutes with Russell on the floor, the Nuggets outscored the Lakers by 12 points. Russell missed seven of his eight field-goal attempts, finishing with three points, four assists and three turnovers. After averaging 14.7 points per game on 45.6% shooting against the Golden State Warriors, Russell’s scoring has been cut in half in the conference finals. He’s shooting below 30% from the field.

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Russell saw his playing time cut from 33 minutes in Game 2 to 20 minutes in Game 3. Now that the Lakers have no margin for error, don’t be surprised if Darvin Ham keeps the points guard on the bench for the entirety of Game 4. The Lakers have already made one starting lineup change against the Nuggets, swapping Jarred Vanderbilt for Dennis Schroder. It makes little sense for Russell to play over Schroder in Game 4.

2. LeBron James will score 40 points for Los Angeles Lakers

It’s time for James to put it all on the line. James has been good against Denver, averaging 23.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 10.3 assists per game while contributing on defense. It hasn’t been enough. Instead of conserving energy early and getting his teammates involved, James might have to be extra aggressive in Game 4 with the Lakers’ season on the brink. That’s how James played in Game 6 against the Warriors. He treated it like a must-win contest, and James finished with 30 points on an incredibly efficient 9-of-14 shooting. James averages 33.5 points in elimination games for his career.

A 30-point game might not be good enough against Denver. Not with the way that Murray and Jokic are playing. James might have to turn back the clock and score 40 points to ensure that Los Angeles’ season doesn’t come to an end Monday night. Even at 38 years old, James is capable of flirting with a 50-point night. There were signs in Game 3 that his 3-point shot might be making a return. James made three shots from behind the arc, and a couple of his misses just rimmed out. James has been able to get to the hoop often against Denver. He could live at the rim in Game 4.

1. Los Angeles Lakers will beat Denver Nuggets by 15 points in Game 4

It would only be natural for the Nuggets to let up somewhat in Game 4. Denver essentially has the series locked up and knows it’s headed for the 2023 NBA Finals. Los Angeles is the much more desperate team, looking for any way to keep its championship hopes alive. If the Lakers have any pride, they’ll avoid another flat start and be competitive early. The Nuggets could easily pack it in if they’re trailing late and get ready to close out the series at home Wednesday night in Game 5.

The Minnesota Timberwolves managed to avoid a sweep and win Game 4 of their first-round series with the Nuggets. Minnesota even had a 12-point lead midway through the fourth quarter before Denver lost in overtime. James and Davis are unlikely to let a late double-digit lead get away from them if it means extending their season. The Lakers have been close enough to the Nuggets in all three games that a comfortable win in Game 4 wouldn’t be all that surprising.