Nuggets vs. Lakers Betting Odds, Pick: Will Denver Cover in LA?
Pictured: Nikola Jokic drives against Anthony Davis. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
- The Nuggets travel to LA to take on the Lakers on Sunday night.
- Denver already beat Los Angeles once this week, can it do so again?
- Andrew O'Connor-Watts previews the game and shares his best bet below.
Nuggets vs. Lakers Odds
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The Denver Nuggets travel to Los Angeles to face the struggling Lakers in a rematch from earlier this week.
Denver’s young star, Michael Porter Jr. sat out Wednesday’s game, but should be good to go tonight.
Anthony Davis led the way for the Lakers with 22 points, two blocks and three steals. He also set season highs with 14 rebounds and five assists.
Davis is questionable with a back injury that caused him to miss Friday’s loss to the Timberwolves, but it’s possible they were giving him the night off in Minneapolis to be fully rested for tonight’s home game.
Will Davis play? And if so, can the Lakers end their drought as the only winless team in the league?
The Nuggets enter Sunday’s matchup with a relatively unimpressive 3-3 record. Expectations going into this season were sky high for Denver with the return of stars Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.
We’re only six games into the season and anyone sounding a panic alarm should be rightfully considered over-dramatic. However, their defense has yet to come into form and the offense has carried the team so far.
The Nuggets currently rank 13th in Offensive Rating, primarily because of their ability to attack the rim and their proficiency from three.
Their starting lineup, led by Nikola Jokic, is especially skilled at attacking the rim, in large part due to Jokic’s ability to run the offense in the high post.
Because he’s such a threat from deep, Jokic’s defender has to respect his shot. That leaves the paint open for teammates to run to and from the perimeter. According to Cleaning the Glass, the Nuggets’ starting lineup of Jokic, Murray, Porter Jr., Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Aaron Gordon ranks in the 94th percentile in FG% at the rim (76.9%).
The Nuggets’ ability to score efficiently from three is thanks, in large part, to their second unit, which is led by second-year point guard, Bones Hyland.
Hyland’s ability to drive and kick is one reason his minutes are so three-point-dominant, but his sharp handle and ability to pull up from anywhere is another reason. While Jokic runs the first-unit offense through the high post, Hyland runs the second unit from behind the 3-point line, playing defenses like a yo-yo as he attacks and retreats.
Hyland’s ability to run the offense from deep shows itself in the stat sheet as well. In possessions with Hyland on the floor, the Nuggets rank in the 86th percentile for corner threes (50.0%), the 92nd percentile for non-corner threes (43.9%) and in the 97th percentile overall (45.3%).
But the Lakers, despite their woeful record, have an answer to the Nuggets’ offense.
Los Angeles Lakers
It seems that no matter how poorly the Lakers play, they can always surprise us and play worse. However, unlike most bad teams, they’re elite on one end of the ball.
Despite a lack of perimeter wing defenders, the Lakers boast the second-best Defensive Rating in the league (103.8).
Cleaning the Glass looks at individual defensive protection from different areas of the court: the rim, short midrange, long midrange, corner three and non-corner three. The only category in which the Lakers don’t rank in the top-10 defensively is protecting shots from long mid-range (29th), the least efficient shot in basketball.
And yet, despite an elite defense, the Lakers are the fourth-worst team in Net Rating (-7.5), which comes as a result of their historically horrendous offense.
Unsurprisingly, the Lakers have the worst Offensive Rating (96.2) in the league and score six fewer points per 100 possessions than the second-worst offensive team, the Clippers. For perspective, the difference between the Lakers at 30th and the Clippers at 29th is the same as the difference between the fifth-ranked offense of the Phoenix Suns (116.9) and the 19th-ranked Washington Wizards (110.9).
The Lakers are particularly bad from the 3-point line. In fact, they are historically bad.
If the Lakers keep up their current average of 28.3% from 3-point range, they will go down as the sixth-worst 3-point-shooting team of all time — barely edging out a 2002-03 Denver Nuggets team that finished the season 17-65.
I think the Nuggets will take this one, despite the Lakers matching up well defensively. If Anthony Davis plays, I still like the Nuggets at -4, even if the line moves against me, which I think is next to impossible. Lay the points with the Nuggets and rest easy knowing that you’re betting against a historically bad 3-point shooting team in an era that heavily relies on the 3-point shot.
Pick: Nuggets -4 (-110)