Lakers vs. Nuggets Odds, Preview, Pick: Denver Holds Advantage In Paint (January 15)
Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Nikola Jokic.
- The Lakers are underdogs on Saturday night in Denver.
- While Los Angeles' offense has thrived of late, there's reason to believe it will struggle to stop the Nuggets attack.
- Jacob McKenna breaks down the matchup and delivers his betting pick below.
Lakers vs. Nuggets Odds
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Los Angeles Lakers will finish their short two-game road trip on Saturday night when they travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets in a Western Conference showdown.
Los Angeles appeared to be back on track after recently ripping off a four-game winning streak, but it has since lost two straight to the Kings and red-hot Grizzlies. Meanwhile, Denver enters this one coming off of a dominant win against Portland, against whom it scored 140 points.
Will we see the Lakers reverse course and get back in the win column, or can Denver build on some recent momentum?
Lakers Offense Showing Signs of Life
The Lakers come into this having won four of their last six games, and a big reason why they have performed so well is because of their stellar offense.
For a majority of the season, the Lakers offense has been all over the place, which has led them to posting the ninth-lowest Offensive Rating in the NBA by scoring 108.6 points per 100 possessions. However, in its last six games, Los Angeles’ Offensive Rating has soared to 121.6.
The Lakers have also seen large improvement in their efficiency compared to the beginning of the season. In their last six games, the Lakers’ field goal percentage has jumped to 48.5% compared to 46.6% on the season. Their efficiency from behind the arc has increased, as well, going from 35.2% up to 38.3%.
Things have been clicking on the offensively, but this team has had its struggles when it comes to holding their opponents in check.
Los Angeles has been in the bottom half of the league in several defensive metrics all season, most notably with a Defensive Rating of 109.4. As a result, the Lake Show has surrendered at least 114 points in four of those aforementioned last six games, including giving up an average of 55.7 points per game in the paint, the second most in the NBA during that span.
It’s clear that the Lakers have missed having Anthony Davis’ defensive presence, but they will once again be without him for this game and will need to get creative in order to stop Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets.
In the Nuggets’ blowout win over Portland, the Trail Blazers were significantly shorthanded in that matchup. Nonetheless, Denver played with incredible efficiency and likely would have won the game no matter who was on the floor for the Blazers.
As a team, the Nuggets scored 140 points and managed to shoot 63% from the floor and 50% from behind the arc, both of which are much higher than their season averages. Denver also held Portland to shooting 45% overall and 32% from deep, which shows that everything was clicking.
Denver has now held its opponents to an average of just 96.6 points per game in its last three games, and its play on that end of the floor is what has allowed them to remain competitive when guys like Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray, and Will Barton have missed significant time.
However, the Nuggets’ offensive attack has lagged behind in recent weeks, which could pose a problem while playing a Lakers team that has scored upwards of 120 points in several games as of late.
According to NBA Advanced Stats, Denver has the 10th-worst Offensive Rating in its last eight games, scoring 110.2 points per 100 possessions. In addition, the Nuggets have generated fewer than 97 possessions per game in that span, so their pace of play indicates they aren’t giving themselves many scoring chances.
Denver does not pose much of a threat from an offensive standpoint, but I think it is likely the Nuggets will be able to have their way against this Lakers team.
The biggest issue as of late for Los Angeles has been its lack of defense in the painted area, which is where the Nuggets have thrived all season, especially at home. While playing at Ball Arena, Denver has averaged 48.5 points per game in the paint, the seventh-best mark in the NBA.
Barton is officially back in the swing of things after missing a game, and Jokic should be able to maneuver through this defense and have his way inside.
As a result, I see the Nuggets building a lead and defending their home court.
Pick: Nuggets -4