After coming back from 3-1 deficits in their first two playoff series, the Nuggets appeared to run out of gas in the first game of the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers, who had six days of rest prior to Friday night’s action. The Lakers came out strong, scoring 70 points in the first half on their way to a 126-114 victory behind 37 points and 10 rebounds from Anthony Davis.
Game 1 Odds and Results
Against the Blazers and the Rockets, the Lakers lost the opening game before winning four straight, all by 8 points or better. The Lakers are scoring 214.3 points per game this postseason, with game one of the last two rounds being their lowest output.
It’s not surprising then that the Lakers entered Friday’s Game 1 as seven point favorites, with a betting total of 210.5. The best shot teams have had at defeating L.A. in the postseason has been in the opening games of the series, where the Lakers were 0-2 prior to Friday night and held to under 100 points both times.
After taking a 38-36 lead after the first quarter, the Nuggets wilted under the Lakers’ defensive pressure and eventually fell behind by as many as 28 points and were unable to stage one of their patented comebacks.
What Can We Expect in Game 2?
Against the Houston Rocket, the Lakers were forced to go small, relegating centers JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard to limited playing time. The move hurt L.A’s offensive output as they scored six points a game less against the Rockets than they did in the Blazers series.
The Nuggets are 0-6 when giving up more than 107 points, a score the Lakers have posted in all eight of their playoff wins. Clearly the key for Denver is to play tough defense instead of trying to outscore the Lakers in a shootout. If Game 1 is any indication, the Nuggets will continue to struggle in finding an answer in defending Davis, not to mention well rested three time champion James.
Unless Denver can stiffen defensively as they did in the latter stages of their first two series’, they might not get an opportunity to erase another 3-1 deficit. The Lakers are on a roll and the extra four games the Nuggets have played in the postseason appear to physically be taking a toll.
The 7.5 point spread looks low to me, as does the 213.5 over/under if the Lakers continue to have their way offensively. If you’re a Nuggets fan, however, they’ve turned it around quickly against the Jazz and the Clippers, so it could happen again.