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Lakers vs. Nuggets Game 2 odds, prediction: NBA Playoffs picks, best bets

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The Nuggets knocked off the Lakers in the first-round NBA playoffs series opener behind a third-quarter surge to regain control of the contest.

Los Angeles started the game hot, taking a 33-25 lead after the first quarter. But the Nuggets regained their stride through rebounding and beating the Lakers in transition.

It was a rude awakening for an L.A. team looking to steal the first game in the best-of-seven series with the defending champs. 

While the Lakers’ two best players, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, are unquestionably talented, a lack of production from the rest of the team could continue to be an issue in the latter stages of Monday night’s Game 2.

Lakers vs. Nuggets odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Lakers +7.5 (-115) +230 o223.5 (-115)
Nuggets -7.5 (-105) -300 u223.5 (-105)
Odds via BetMGM

Lakers analysis

James and Davis are doing almost everything possible to get Los Angeles over the line. Both players combined for 59 of the Lakers’ 103 points in Game 1, while Taurean Prince (11 points) was the only player to score double figures off the bench.  

The Lakers could’ve certainly used more from starting point guard D’Angelo Russell, who finished the game with 13 points on 6-of-20 shooting. He shot just 1-for-9 from beyond the arc.

In the Western Conference Finals last year, Russell completely disappeared, averaging 6.2 points over the four-game sweep while shooting 2-of-15 (13.3%) from the perimeter. 

The Nuggets continue to have Russell’s number, limiting him to 13.7 four points in the three meetings this season, 4.3 points below his season average.

While both teams averaged 11.7 3-pointers per game, the Lakers rank 28th in opponent 3-point field goals (14.2) compared to Denver, which finished second (11.2). 

That discrepancy was fully displayed in Game 1, as the Nuggets (15) made seven more 3-pointers than the Lakers.

Nuggets analysis

Denver can make this a quick series if it continues to dominate the Lakers on the glass. The Nuggets flexed their muscles, winning the rebounding battle 49-40.

Per TeamRankings, Denver is seventh in rebounding with 52.4 per game. It’s worth noting that the Lakers particularly struggle on the offensive glass, ranking last with an average of 8.2.

Moreover, they forced only six turnovers in Game 1, and that’s not good enough when you’re last in generating extra scoring opportunities (-3.4 per game).

Denver (46.1%) shot worse than Los Angeles (49.4%) but was +15 in extra scoring chances for the game.

The Nuggets used their rebounding edge to exploit the Lakers’ defensive weakness in transition. Los Angeles ranks 27th in this category, allowing 16.4 per contest, and gave up 21 fastbreak points in the series opener.

The Lakers aren’t suddenly going to become a better rebounding team. They also struggle in transition defense and are often outscored on the perimeter by their opponents.

Considering these factors, the Nuggets are simply a bad matchup for the Lakers over a 48-minute game. 


LeBron James had to carry a large load in Game 1, with little help from the Lakers’ bench players. Getty Images

Lakers vs. Nuggets prediction

(10 p.m. ET, TNT)

Los Angeles will likely continue to sell out, hoping to leave the Mile High City with a series split. 

After Saturday’s game, Lakers coach Darvin Ham told reporters that he withheld some of the adjustments his team could’ve made in trying to slow down Denver’s Nikola Jokic. 

“We didn’t want to go too deep into the in-game adjustments,” Ham said. “It’s still that ultimate chess game, so we were comfortable with the results…If we need to go back to it, it’s there.”

Jokic nearly had a triple-double with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists while facing multiple defenders and double-teams.

If Ham and the Lakers reach deep into their bag for those adjustments, there’s a decent chance the Nuggets will be ready for them. 


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Jokic is such a willing passer that the team is comfortable with his ability to find the open man. 

Containing the Nuggets for all four quarters has proven difficult for the Lakers, and the second half is generally when Los Angeles starts to lose its grip.

This cat-and-mouse game of adjustments in the media piqued my interest in a second-half play on the Nuggets.

According to our Action Labs, Denver has covered the second-half spread in the last four playoff meetings between these teams. 

The Lakers are already at a disadvantage since they have a shorter bench with forwards Christian Wood, Cam Reddish and Jarred Vanderbilt already ruled out.

Thus, having the Lakers’ starters play more minutes where the altitude is already a factor could be disastrous.

While the Lakers could ultimately start fast, look for them to begin fading in the second half.

Pick: Nuggets 2H -2.5 (-115, Caesars)

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