The Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets will play Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Friday night, beginning their battle for the right to advance to the NBA Finals.
The Lakers have been the favorites to win the NBA Championship for much of this postseason and are coming off a 4-1 series win against James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the Houston Rockets. However, the Nuggets have had quite the exciting postseason, coming back from two 3-1 series deficits in the Western Conference first round and semifinals.
Jamal Murray and Nikola Jovic are the two players on the Nuggets averaging 20-plus points this postseason and have done a tremendous job leading the charge in these must-win games. On paper, the Lakers really don’t have a tremendously different stat line. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are the Lakers’ scoring leaders by quite a large margin.
These two teams faced each other four times this year, with the Lakers winning three out of the four matchups. The last two games, happening in February and August, saw the Lakers win both.
However, the February game finished in overtime with a four-point margin, and the August game ended on a last-second Kyle Kuzma three-pointer to give the Lakers a three-point victory.
Lakers-Nuggets Betting Odds
The moneyline is heavily in favor of the Los Angeles Lakers (-290) against the Denver Nuggets (+235). The spread has the Lakers favored by seven points at -110 for both teams.
The over/under is 211, again with both teams at -110.
With the Lakers coming off a long rest and the Nuggets having yet another quick turnaround, it’s tough to imagine anything other than the Lakers winning this series and heading to their first NBA finals since 2010. The Nuggets, despite being red hot and definitely fired up after a Game 7 win over the heavily-favored Clippers, are going to have their hands full with this Lakers team.
However, a sweep of the series, especially with the form the Nuggets have been in, seems highly unlikely. It’s just a matter of predicting which game, or games, the Nuggets are going to take from the Lakers.
The Nuggets have lost three of the first four games in each playoff series they have played this postseason only to turn it on and win the last three. Do we think the Nuggets are going to right the ship in this matchup and take a substantial early lead? Probably not.
The Nuggets are playing some of the best basketball in the NBA with their season on the line. Don’t take their moneyline until late in the series, but we like them at a +7 spread, considering how tight they have played the Lakers in their most recent matchups.
As for the over/under, both teams have been playing great offense, so we’re taking the over for these two teams in Game 1.