Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers betting tips and predictions for Thursday’s NBA Playoffs game on ESPN. After a fantastic performance in Game 1, the Nuggets look to double their lead as they host the Lakers in Game 2 of their West Finals series. Read on for all our free predictions and betting tips.
As expected, the series opener was all about pace as the Nuggets came hot out of the gate. They opened the game with a 12-point lead and although the Lakers stormed back late, they had to play catch-up for the entire game. Nikola Jokic finished with a historic stat line of 34 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists, hitting 12 of 17 shots and all 3 of his three point attempts.
All of that effort goes down the drain tonight if the Nuggets lose though, so they cannot afford to relax. The win extended their run to 9 wins in a row at Ball Arena, they’re also 5-1 SU against the Lakers in this building now. Adjustments will be made by both teams for Game 2, I believe a slower tempo is to be expected after the feel out game on Tuesday. Getting all 5 starters to score 10+ points in Game 1 played a massive role for the Nuggets, they’ll be in good shape if that happens again in Game 2.
Los Angeles Lakers
A late LeBron James three could have evened the score with about 40 seconds left, but the King missed and the Lakers find themselves down 1-0. That’s not the end of the World, but the pressure is increasing whenever you’re down in the playoffs as the series progresses. There were some positives to take away from that loss, Anthony Davis went off for 40 points, while Austin Reaves added 23, including 5 threes.
As a team the Lakers shot almost 55% from the field, but they’ll need to work on their defense for Game 2. Entering the series opener on Tuesday they were the number one team in terms of defensive rating in the postseason, so it was a bit surprising the Nuggets were able to put up 132 points. Lakers are 5.5-point underdogs for Game 2, compared to Game 1 when the spread was at 8 points.
LA will be in a tough spot if they lose Game 2, but I still like Denver here. They’ve now gone 41-7 SU at home this season. The Lakers got great production from both AD and James and still lost Game 1, they’ll need to address their issues once the series returns to Los Angeles. I’ll take Denver to cover again.
Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers Predictions & Odds
Now that Game 1 is out the way, I firmly believe the pace of play will go down. LA just doesn’t have the depth to consistently run with the Nuggets, through the first 2 rounds they relied heavily on defense to win games, so I don’t think they’ll shy away from that strategy in this game. The projected total has gone up to 227 points, compared to just 222.5 in Game 1.
The Nuggets won’t mind the slower tempo, they currently sit in 11th place in terms of pace this postseason averaging 96.3 possessions per game. So far this season at Ball Arena they are 20-27-1 on the O/U, so they’re no strangers to lower scoring games themselves. I’m picking the under for Game 2.