NBA Odds, Best Bets: Expert Picks for Nuggets vs Lakers Game 3

NBA Odds, Best Bets: Expert Picks for Nuggets vs Lakers Game 3 article feature image

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on before a game at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California.

  • Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals is upon us, and our staff is ready.
  • Our NBA crew came through with four bets for Game 3 between the Nuggets and Lakers, including a first-half pick, a moneyline play, a team total and a player prop.
  • Check out all four of our best bets for Nuggets vs. Lakers Game 3 below.

The magic the Los Angeles Lakers have mustered all postseason didn't seem to have the same impact in the altitude against the Denver Nuggets in the first two games of the Western Conference finals. But they have a chance to start re-writing the script in Hollywood as the series shifts to L.A.

One thing is clear: desperation will be at a high with the Lakers looking to avoid falling into an 0-3 hole, while the Nuggets look to keep momentum on their side.

Action Network's analysts have five best bets today, feeding off the narrative heading into Game 3. Read on for their expert picks for Nuggets vs Lakers, including bets on the first-half spread, player props and more.

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Nuggets vs. Lakers First Half
Nuggets vs. Lakers Moneyline
Nuggets vs. Lakers Team Total
Nuggets vs. Lakers Player Prop
Nuggets vs. Lakers Player Prop

Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers 1H -2.5 (-148)
8:30 p.m. ET

Brandon Anderson: This is a classic spot to back the home team.

The old saying goes that a playoff series doesn't really start until a home team loses a game. This series has most definitely started, but it's a good reminder of just how much home court matters, and that was always going to be the case in this series. Neither Denver nor Los Angeles has lost a home game all playoffs, now 14-0 combined.

The Lakers will come out with an air of desperation in Game 3. LeBron James or not, no team in NBA history has come back from down 0-3 in a playoff series.

This is "win or go home" for the Lakers, and there's just very little way for the Nuggets to match that energy emotionally, especially with a rocking Saturday night home Los Angeles crowd. Remember, Denver is only 2-3 on the road this postseason.

Per Bet Labs, teams down 0-2 in a playoff series coming home for Game 3 are an impressive 68-34-2 ATS (67%) since 2003, covering two of every three times over the past two decades. Books know this and have started to price in a point or more into the first-half line, but it's still a strong trend.

Expect a very good home whistle for the Lakers, which means more free throws, easy offense and a choppier game that messes with Denver's offensive flow. The Nuggets are up 2-0 and have been the better team. But they haven't won comfortably in either game, so the change of venue matters, and the desperation factor is huge.

I'll take the Lakers to come out hot, get the first-half lead, and go on to win and cover. This series is not a wrap just yet.

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Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Nuggets Moneyline (+210)

Chris Baker: This is extremely contrarian, but I did not like what I saw from the Lakers in Game 2.

The Lakers had 26 free throws to the Nuggets' 10 heading into the last minute of the game. It felt like everything went their way in terms of whistles and extreme outlier poor shooting from the Nuggets, and they still managed to lose the game.

Their defensive process has been unimpressive to me as they allowed the Nuggets to attempt 41% of their shots from 3 in Game 2.

The Lakers aren’t really getting up a lot of 3s, owning a 31% 3-point attempt rate in Game 2 and a 26% rate in Game 1. Outside of Austin Reaves, the Lakers have no real consistent spacers, whereas the Nuggets have four or five players who can feasibly hit catch-and-shoot triples on the court at all times.

Additionally, the Nuggets played awfully offensively from both a shooting and turnover perspective, putting up a woeful 16.5% turnover rate (18th percentile), according to Cleaning the Glass. Game 2 was probably the Nuggets' worst game of the postseason and they still managed to win by five.

I know all the trends point to the Lakers at home here in Game 3, but I just feel like the Nuggets are the better team — and there's something to be said for backing an elite shooting team like the Nuggets off a bad shooting game.

Back the better team on the road despite what the trends say. Take the Nuggets on the moneyline at +210, and play this down to +175.

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Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers Team Total Over 114.5

Andrew O'Connor-Watts: Denver remains unbeaten at home this postseason, but so do the Lakers, who host the Nuggets in Game 3 at Arena. We'll see if that trend holds up Saturday.

I like the Lakers to bounce back in this game, but the way I’ll bet them is to go over their team total of 114.5.

They’ve gotten a friendly whistle all series, and that was on the road in Denver. I expect that to get better at home. The Lakers have also scored 115 or more in all but two of their eight postseason wins and have gone over their team total in four of their past five and six of their past 10 home games.

The Nuggets defense has also struggled on the road, and I could see this being a letdown spot. The Nuggets could still win Game 3, but it will likely be in a high-scoring game if they do.

Pick: Lakers Team Total Over 114.5 (-110 · 1 Unit)

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Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Nikola Jokic u28.5 Points

Matt Moore: On top of Nikola Jokic going 9-of-23 from the field in the last five quarters, if anyone is going to get into foul trouble in Game 3, it's Jokic. Foul trouble would limit his availability and hurt his production. Turnovers take the ball out of his hands.

The Lakers are also progressively sending more help in post-ups, which will lead Jokic to pass more. Don't mess with his rebounds or assists. Just play the under and trust he won't feel the need to be a great scorer.

Pick: Nikola Jokic Under 28.5 Points

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Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Austin Reaves o24.5 PTS + REB + AST

Bryan Fonseca: This seems like a trap, but I'll take my chances. This was -105 last night, but still decent value given the likelihood.

Over 24.5 points, rebounds and assists? It's a line Reaves has crossed in five consecutive games and in four other instances in these playoffs — nine out of 13 playoff games.

Reaves has the fourth-highest usage on the team in the playoffs at 18.7, and honestly, it might need to climb around at least 20 if this team's going to dig out of a 2-0 deficit.

Did I just say that? Guess so…

Ultimately, I agree with Vegas in thinking the Lakers win this game, and my expectation is Reaves will have the ball in his hands a healthy amount once again. He's had at least four assists in each of his last five games, and has crossed 20 points in four of those. He's up and down in rebounds, but averages 4.4 boards in the playoffs.

Additionally, Reaves is averaging 4.5 free throw attempts per game at home, and comparatively, just 2.5 per on the road. Let's ride the Reaves streak.

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Nick Sterling
Jul 14, 2024 UTC