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Friday NBA Betting Picks & Predictions: Our Staff’s Favorite Playoff Bets for Nuggets vs. Lakers Game 1 (Sept. 18)

Friday NBA Betting Picks & Predictions: Our Staff’s Favorite Playoff Bets for Nuggets vs. Lakers Game 1 (Sept. 18) article feature image

Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets shoots the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers.

  • Looking for more bets for Nuggets vs. Lakers? Our NBA crew is all over it.
  • Action Network contributors Joe Dellera and Reed Wallach both see value on one side of the over/under.
  • Check out their analysis and picks below for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

Game 1 of the Western Conference finals tips off tonight with the enigmatic Denver Nuggets facing the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. You can read our Game 1 breakdown from The Action Network contributor Brandon Anderson here and a series breakdown from Senior NBA writer Matt Moore here.

The rest of our staff breaks down their favorite NBA bets for today’s slate and where to find the most value in tonight’s matchup.

  • 9 p.m. ET: Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Friday NBA Betting Picks

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Reed Wallach: Nuggets vs. Lakers

Nuggets odds +7 [BET NOW]
Lakers odds -7 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +245/-305 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 211 [BET NOW]
Time 9 p.m. ET

The Lakers don’t play particularly fast in the postseason, while the Nuggets played at the second-slowest pace in the league, both in the regular season and postseason. I don’t expect much to change in the opening game of this series where the tempo should be slow, especially after the Nuggets are coming off their second straight seven-game gauntlet.

Both team’s shot profiles point toward a lower scoring game. They each took less than 36% of their shots from behind the 3-point line in the regular season, which ranks in the bottom third of the NBA. That clip is up in the postseason for both teams, but still towards the basement of all playoff teams.

The Lakers are likely going to put a traditional center on Nikola Jokic, which will have consequences on the offensive end. The floor will be tighter and the pace probably slower with the likes of JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard back in the rotation for now. The offense may regress a bit after catching fire with its small-ball lineup against the Houston Rockets in the second round.

Lastly, the free throw line will be a factor. The Lakers get to the line at a top-10 rate, but have shot it terribly all year at 72%. Pair that with a Nuggets team that doesn’t get to the charity stripe at all (bottom five in free throw attempts per game), and this game may not see too many freebies. I like this under play in the down to 210.5.

The PICK: Under 211

[Bet the Game 1 under at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

Note: DraftKings is offering the best pricing for the Game 1 total, but new users may consider placing their wager at BetMGM, which is offering a $500 instant deposit match just for signing up.

Joe Dellera: Nuggets vs. Lakers

The Lakers are posting a 104.9 Defensive Rating in the playoffs and are well rested having played their last game six days ago. This Defensive Rating is notable: It is 1.2 points lower than their regular season defensive rating and came against two teams (the Trail Blazers and the Rockets) who posted top-six Offensive Ratings in the regular season.

I expect the Lakers to go big in this game and force the Nuggets to defend the interior on tired legs. This would not only expose the lack of athleticism of Jokic, but the Nuggets’ rotations as well. I can see Denver being forced to decide between the offense that Michael Porter Jr. provides and a stronger defensive presence.

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The Nuggets are due for some regression shooting the basketball. They’ve posted a 55.6% eFG% during the playoffs compared to an expected 53%. This number is buoyed by their hot shooting from 3-point range (40.1%) and effective midrange game (44.4%) per Cleaning the Glass. The Lakers have limited their opponents to a 51.3% eFG% (second-best in the playoffs) and they’ve done this by limiting their opponents on non-corner 3s and from mid-range.

I like the Lakers to win this game but seven points may be a tough cover. So, like Reed, I’ll look at the total.

It has been profitable to bet the under when the total moves down a full point or more. Since 2005, it is 245-204-7 and the under is 15-10-2 this season, per our Bet Labs database. I like the Lakers’ defense in this game and I’ll play this down to 210.5.

The PICK: Under 211

[Bet the Game 1 under at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

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