With nothing to lose and only respect to gain, the Denver Nuggets have their sights set on shocking the world.
A week ago, the world expected Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals to be an all-LA affair. Unfortunately, the Nuggets refused to die. This isn’t the series the NBA world wanted, but this is the series the NBA world deserves as the Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers are set to clash.
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The Los Angeles Lakers led the regular season head-to-head match-up 3-1. Keep in mind one of those wins came in the bubble and was won on a last-second jumper, with all Nuggets starters watching the entire 4th quarter. Based on season per game stats, these teams are eerily similar on paper.
Nuggets / Lakers
48% Field Goals 48%
37% Three Point % 36%
44.1 Rebounds per Game 45.7
26.7 Assists per Game 25.4
13.7 Turnovers per Game 15.2
Obviously, the Lakers have the star power with LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way. However, the Nuggets have a significant advantage in continuity. The Lakers have only five players on their current roster that were on the team a year ago. The Nuggets have used a playoff rotation consisting of 9 players, 7 of which have been with the team for at least 3 seasons. Trust matters in crunch time, just ask the Clippers.
Game 1 of any series can be hard to predict. Although the Nuggets have gained a ton of street credit and respect among the league, they haven’t budged the opinions of the oddsmakers. Before we get into the data, let’s point out a few things to consider when betting the Nuggets.
The Nuggets have played 28 playoff games in the past two seasons. Their core nucleus has been there for every game. Thus far in the playoffs, the Lakers have won by having a talent edge and an edge on injuries to key players. Denver has shown an ability to win in multiple ways; the Lakers have gotten by one their superstars effort alone. It’s going to take more than two stars to beat the Nuggets in a series; ask the Clippers about that too.
According to our friends at BetRivers, the current lines for Game 1 are Denver +7 underdogs with a 211 Over/Under Game Total and the Moneyline for Denver @ +245.
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Let’s check out some data and look for ways to profit while enjoying Game 1.
Numbers to remember for Nuggets-Lakers Game 1
- Lakers are 0-2 in Game 1 of Playoff games in the Bubble
- The Game total has gone Under in 7 of Denver’s last 8 Games
- Denver is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 Games
- When favored by at least 6.5 pts the Lakers have covered at a rate of 21-20-1
- When Denver is an Underdog by at least 6.5 pts the have a record of 7-4 ATS
- Denver is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as an underdog
- The Over is 4-0 in the Nuggets last 4 games coming off of 2+days of rest
Wagers to consider:
- The Game Total Under 211
- Denver Moneyline @ +245, 45% of public bets are heading this way, per The Action Network
- In-Game Parlay Denver Moneyline and Over @ +540
- Denver +7 @ -110
- LeBron Over 27.5 Points @ +100
- Gary Harris over 1.5 3 point shots made @ +110
Expectations for the game
Game 1s are either tone setters or anomalies. Expect juices to be flowing early and a high tempo game to start. If there is one game to jump on the Over this may be it, although the Under has been money as of late. The Lakers have a frontcourt and rebounding advantage. Denver has a backcourt, specifically, point guard advantage. Surprisingly Denver is the best 3-point shooting team left in the bubble, while the Lakers are the worst based on percentage.
The stars will battle throughout this game and series. The key to Game 1, and possibly the entire series, will be which team can consistently get scoring from role players. Michael Porter Jr. and Kyle Kuzma will be the most likely candidates to contribute in this way.
This is a Jamal Murray game; the Nuggets will go as far as the blue arrow can take them in Game 1. My gut tells me the Under is a safe bet for Game 1. However, with both teams coming off of at least two days of rest and with confidence soaring, it’s hard for me to dispute a high probability of the Over being crushed. With what the Nuggets just accomplished in the first two rounds, there is no way I can buy any team beating them by 7 or more points.