NBA Playoffs Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Nuggets vs. Lakers Game 2 (Sunday, Sept. 20)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Nikola Jokic and LeBron James.
- The Denver Nuggets look to even the series with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.
- The Lakers are 7.5-point favorites following their Game 1 blowout and the total is set at 213.5.
- Brandon Anderson previews this matchup and explains why he recommends waiting for a ripe live number to play the underdog Nuggets on.
Nuggets vs. Lakers Game 2 Odds
|Nuggets Odds||+7.5 [BET NOW]|
|Lakers Odds||-7.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-315/+265 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||213.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET on Sunday|
Two series in a row, the Denver Nuggets have come back from 3-1 deficits to win in seven games. And now in two Game 1 openers in a row, they’ve come out flat and left us without much of a game in a blowout loss.
It’s hard to blame Denver much, though. They were an exhausted team and Tony Brothers and Scott Foster really came to play. A steady dose of early whistles led to three fouls on Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap all before halftime.
That led to the Los Angeles Lakers getting a constant parade of free throws to take the pace out of the game and generated way too many easy buckets.
Denver hung in for a quarter, but lost the momentum by halftime and never really recovered. So what’s left for Game 2?
So what did we learn about Denver in Game 1? Personally, not too much.
Jokic was aggressive early and had a great first quarter, giving the Nuggets the lead after 12 minutes thanks to a last-second three. However, things changed when he picked up back-to-back phantom offensive fouls. That led to the game quickly spiraling out of control for Denver.
Michael Porter Jr. had a nice game in defeat. He ended up logging the second-most minutes in the blowout, putting up 14 points and 10 rebounds. He could be a real wild card off the bench the rest of the series.
Denver shot only 9 of 26 behind the arc and neither of those numbers is going to be good enough against the Lakers. The Nuggets are not the better team here, and against a big Lakers team that doesn’t shoot well, they absolutely have to win the three-point battle. The Lakers shot exactly as many threes and made two more. That’s simply not going to work.
In our Game 1 preview, we specifically talked about the importance of Murray being aggressive off the dribble on threes. However, Murray took only five threes in Game 1. He made three of them, but I’d like to see that attempt number doubled going forward.
Los Angeles Lakers
Anthony Davis had a huge game with 37 points, buoyed by 15 free-throw attempts. He was the Lakers’ biggest benefactor from all those early calls. LeBron James was muted like he usually is in Game 1 openers. That being said, it’s scary for Denver they got blown out in a game where James only had 15 points and six rebounds.
Two of the Lakers’ keys for the series went in their favor in Game 1. Rajon Rondo was “Playoff Rondo” again, recording nine assists in less than 22 minutes off the bench. Los Angeles’ centers played 27 minutes and did a fine job as well. That is, Dwight Howard did well, especially on defense.
JaVale McGee was pretty much getting cardio out there. He had four fouls, two turnovers, and no points or rebounds in 11 minutes, somehow recording a 0.0 offensive rating in a blowout win. I’m not sure we’ll see much more McGee in this series as bad as he was, which is tough news for Denver.
The Lakers did get a lot of points in Game 1 that probably won’t be there every meeting of the series. Both Markieff Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit three three-pointers. Suffice it to say, those triples and that barrage of early fouls/free throws won’t be there every game, either.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I’m well aware the Nuggets just came back from down 3-1 twice in a row, but it sure feels like this is a must-win game for them. You do not want to have to win four of five games against James and Davis.
Can Denver do it? We’ll see. I do think the Nuggets are going to be undervalued here because of the Game 1 blowout, but I didn’t learn much in Game 1 other than that I hope we don’t see Brothers and Foster too often.
Our Action Network app is currently showing the Lakers receiving a whopping 97% of the money so far — again showing how undervalued Denver is. At +265 on the money line, the Nuggets are implied to win under 27% of the time. That feels low to me.
Can Denver win the series? That’s a steep hill, but they can definitely win a game or two.
I’m not excited about just picking a Denver cover here. The Nuggets have seven postseason losses and five of them are by double digits. No, if you’re going to play Denver, you need to be greedy and go for the win.
I’m greedy, but I’m even greedier than +265. I’m waiting to live bet the Nuggets. It’s not like they’re going to blow out the Lakers, so I’m not risking much on the +265 by waiting awhile.
But I’m looking for something like we saw last series. Give me that early Lakers run and a big lead, with James mean-mugging the camera and this team thinking the series is over. Denver is not going to roll over like Houston. The Nuggets are going to fight, and if they get rolling, they can always win.
I’m looking to bet Denver live after an early Lakers run and lead before half, hoping for around a +400 money line or above. From there, I’ll take my chances.
PICK: Nuggets Live Play around +400