Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets Betting Predictions

Lakers vs Nuggets NBA
Los Angeles vs. Denver, NBA Betting Predictions, February 4

The Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets tangle for the first time Thursday since the two teams met in the Western Conference Finals last year. The Nuggets head to Los Angeles as winners of six of their last seven while the Lakers won the final two games of their road trip to return home 5-2 on their eastward trek. The Lakers should be able to take care of business in their first home game in more than two weeks.

Lakers vs. Nuggets Betting Odds

The Los Angeles Lakers easily dispatched the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals last year en route to winning the title. The two teams meet up for the first time this season in Los Angeles and the Nuggets are headed there with a lot of momentum. Denver has won six of its last seven games and is starting to finally look like the team that roared to the conference finals in the bubble behind center Nikola Jokic and guard Jamal Murray. Los Angeles had a brief skid on its recent seven-game road trip out East, but finished the trip with consecutive wins to remain a half game out of the top seed in the Western Conference.

Denver’s success this season has depended on Jokic, who is close to averaging a triple-double as a big man. He leads the team with 26.8 points per game and 11.8 rebounds per game, but he’s also averaging 8.6 assists per game, almost twice as many as Murray, the point guard. He’s scored at least 30 points in six games this season, including 35 and 47, respectively, in the two games preceding Thursday’s matchup. The challenge for Jokic will be playing against the Lakers, who were Jokic’s kryptonite last season. In nine games between the regular season and playoffs last season, Jokic scored 22 or fewer points eight times and was held to seven or fewer rebounds seven times.

On the other side, Jokic and the Nuggets are going to need to find a new way to slow down Anthony Davis in the middle of the Lakers’ offense. LeBron James certainly did his fair share of damage against Denver last season, but Davis was simply dominant against the Nuggets. He scored at least 30 points five times in the nine meetings last season and scored 27 points on three other occasions. In the Western Conference Finals alone, Davis averaged 31.2 points on 54.3-percent shooting against the Nuggets. James, though, did flourish in the postseason against Denver, adding 27 points, 10.4 rebounds and nine assists to Davis’ totals.

The basketball betting sites in New Jersey have staked the Lakers as five-point favorites, which certainly makes sense given the regular-season environment. The Lakers did win seven of the nine matchups against Denver last season with the margin of victory varying from two points all the way up to 12 points. Four of Los Angeles’ five wins on the recent road trip were by single digits as well, so the Lakers aren’t blowing out teams this year either. The odds aren’t great at -110 on the Lakers laying the five points, but there aren’t many other good options at the legal sports betting sites in New Jersey on the outcome of the game. But I’ll sneak in a few extra cents and bet Los Angeles laying 5.5 points for -102 odds instead.

I’m actually far more interested in the player props at the NBA betting sites in New Jersey for my NBA predictions. I’ll start with Anthony Davis scoring 30 points in a Lakers victory at +560 odds as he continues his dominance over Denver despite Davis’ scoring average is the lowest its been since his second year in the league. I’m going to combine that with LeBron James recording a triple-double, which you can bet at +500 odds at the sportsbooks. James has just one triple double this season, but after nearly averaging one during the Western Conference Finals against Denver, I expect him to exploit the Nuggets’ defensive weaknesses again in this game.

My Prediction

Los Angeles -5

The Nuggets are playing really well of late, but the Lakers are still a matchup nightmare for Denver. Los Angeles limited Nikola Jokic in the Western Conference Finals last season, and they’ll do it again Thursday.

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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