Lakers-Nuggets Betting Preview: Target the Over/Under

Lakers-Nuggets Betting Preview: Target the Over/Under article feature image

Photo credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: LeBron James and Paul Millsap

Betting odds: Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets

  • Spread: Nuggets -3.5
  • Over/Under: 219
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • TV: NBA TV

>> All odds as of 3 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets

LeBron James and the 11-8 Los Angeles Lakers will travel to Denver tonight to take on the 13-7 Nuggets. The King put up a triple-double in their first meeting this year. Can the Lakers cover again? Our analysts dive in.

Moore: What I’m Watching For Tonight

The Lakers handed the Nuggets their first loss of the season back in October, putting a spotlight on their issues with containing big, explosive centers at the rim. JaVale McGee tore them up.

Expect that continue, as Denver doesn’t have the frontline with Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap to effectively contain the lob. They also don’t have anyone to even slow down LeBron James a little bit, making things simple offensively for the Lakers.

The Lakers have been wildly erratic these first two months, ranking top 10 in offense and 23rd in defense in October, then going to 19th in offense and third in defense in November. They don’t know who they are, and that can mean you never know what you’re getting night-to-night.

They’re .500 vs. teams over .500, and 6-3 vs. teams under. That’s actually a high number of losses vs. teams under .500, which shows how they can win or lose to anyone on the schedule.

Jamal Murray has had an up-and-down season, but he tends to go off when he plays the Lakers, especially after he struggles as he did in the game earlier this season. — Matt Moore

Locky: Why I’m Betting the Over

If we measured these two teams solely on their ability to compete with the Orlando Magic, this game would project as a blowout. The Lakers are 7-2 in the last three weeks; those two losses were somehow both to Orlando, and both were double-digit ATS losing margins. Meanwhile, Denver beat Orlando by almost 30 just last week. So… Denver by like 40 in this game, right? Transitive property!

Although the ACTUAL spread is really close to what I have as well, unfortunately, the total is something I find really interesting. You couldn’t set Lakers totals high enough early in the season; they’d still eclipse them.

But now after seeing 230s and even a 240 posted for LeBron’s bunch early in the season, the total for tonight’s game is 219 — the second-lowest total in a Lakers game all year (their last game against Orlando was 217 and went under).

Matt astutely points out the polarizing nature of the Lakers performances and the unpredictability of what you get night-to-night. If this is really at the bottom of their total range for the season, an over play may be appealing.

The Nuggets, on the other hand, have gone under in four straight, all by double-digit margins, and it hasn’t been by accident. Their last two games, defensive efficiency-wise, have been two of their best of the season, per Cleaning the Glass.

The Nuggets’ last game, against a tired, short-handed Thunder team, is setting the current market opinion of their defense pretty high. The Thunder couldn’t hit a shot in that game, and Russell Westbrook was held to 6-for-23 shooting, and specifically 1-for-12 from 3. But are those sound defensive efforts going to project forward here against L.A. and their schemes and matchups?

The Nuggets’ loss to the Lakers in October was indeed one of their WORST defensive efforts of the entire season, as LeBron had an efficient 28/11/11 triple-double and his Lakers team shot better than 50%. And remember, Rajon Rondo didn’t play in THAT game either (he was suspended), so his absence here seems essentially irrelevant.

It’s possible the Lakers are just a bad matchup for Denver. The total in that first meeting between the two teams was 235 — 16 points higher than tonight’s — and the teams combined for exactly that number.

With both teams on such strong under streaks fueled by defensive success, and seeing their totals in ensuing games drop as a result, I think we may have reached the “buy” point on an over considering how their last matchup went. — Ken Barkley

Betting Trends to Know

L.A. and Denver have been two of the better defensive teams in the league this season, allowing fewer than 107 points per 100 possessions. You might think when two good defenses play the under would be profitable, but that hasn’t been the case this year. In 2018, when two teams with a Defensive Rating of 107 or lower have played, the over has gone 28-16 (64%). — John Ewing

Both the Nuggets and Lakers have gone under the total in their last four games entering Tuesday night. As John notes, Denver and L.A. have been two of the better defensive teams in 2018, and teams in this spot lean to the under, going 58-46 (55.8%). They’re 12-4 to the under since 2016, going under the total by 4.6 PPG.

The Nuggets have won three straight and are now six games over .500 through 20 games. Under Mike Malone, the Nuggets have struggled against-the-spread on winning streaks (3+ games), going 9-15 ATS (37.5%), losing bettors 6.6 units. — Evan Abrams

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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