After trailing 0-1 in each of their first two rounds of the playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers started the series off right with a 126-114 win against the Denver Nuggets on Friday, covering the spread as a 7.5 point favorite. After trailing 38-36 after one-quarter of play, the Lakers play the Lakers took control in the second quarter, jumping out to a 70-59 halftime lead and never looking back.
The Nuggets will attempt to avoid falling behind 2-0 for the first time this postseason season in Game 2.
Including the regular season, the Lakers have now won four of the five games against Denver, covering the spread twice.
Nuggets can't stop Lakers in Game 1The Nuggets shot 49.4% (41-83) from the field, 34.6% (9-26) on threes, and 82.1% (23-28) from the line in the Game 1 loss against the Lakers. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray both finished with 21 points apiece to lead the Nuggets and were the only starters in double figures, but the bench did add 53 points.
Throughout the 15 playoff games, the Nuggets leading scorer is Jamal Murray, who is averaging 26.7 ppg and 6.3 assists, followed by Nikola Jokic, who is averaging 25.1 and 10.5 rebounds. If the Nuggets plan to even up the series on Sunday, they will hope that Murray and Jokic and come through with another dominating playoff performance, similar to what they did in the series-deciding Game 7 against the Clippers when Jamal Murray went for 40 points and shot 15 of 26. Jokic struggled with foul trouble in Game 1 against the Lakers, as Dwight Howard shadowed him most of the time.
Nikola Jokic scored 16 points with 22 rebounds, and 13 assists in Game 7 against the Clippers to advance the Nuggets into the Western Conference Finals. More importantly, the Nuggets will also need to find the same defensive efficiency that held the Clippers to 105 points or less in their last four games of the second round and only 103.1 points.
Lakers dominate Nuggets after Lebron finishes 2nd in MVP votingInstead of struggling for an entire game to open a series, the Lakers only took one quarter to figure out the Nuggets on Friday, as they opened the second quarter with a 17-1 run. For the game, Los Angeles shot 53% (44-83) from the field, 42.3% (11-26) on threes, and 73% 27-37) from the free-throw line. Anthony Davis leads the team with 37 points and 10 rebounds, and LeBron James added 15 points and 12 assists. James had an efficient game making six of his 11 shot attempts but looked to set his teammates up, and he set them up well he did. Kentavious Caldwell Pope scored 18 points, while Howard and Kyle Kuzma added 13 and 11 points off the bench. Howard, who rarely played in the Houston series due to their lack of size, was an important key for the Lakers off the bench due to his defense and rebounding.
Everything looks better in the Phantom Cam 👻📹 pic.twitter.com/Hfnp1EsnTQ— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) September 19, 2020
In the 11 playoff games for the Anthony Davis leads the Lakers with 28.5 ppg and 10.8 rebounds. Lebron James is second with 25.5 ppg, 9.9 rebounds, and a team-best 9.1 assists.
- The Over is 4-0 in the Lakers last 4 games against the Nuggets
- The Nuggets are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games as an underdog
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
It's hard to go against the Lakers, who have covered the spread in five straight playoff games now as a favorite of 5.5 points or more, but a streak like that can only go on for so long in the postseason, even for the greatest teams. Jokic should be able to stay out of foul trouble in Game 2 and the Nuggets will need to give him more help in the frontcourt. The Nuggets were blown out 120-97 against the Clippers in the first game of the second round, and then made the adjustments to win game two. Mike Malone has down a great job coaching in this postseason, and I think the Nuggets will be much more competitive in Game 2.
Prediction: Denver Nuggets +7.5
Full-Game Total Pick
I don't like to overreact to one game, but the opener showed me that this should be a higher scoring series than anticipated. The Nuggets are going to have trouble protecting the rim in this series against the Lakers. The Nuggets will also need to play more uptempo then they did against the Clippers if they want to score against this tough Lakers defense. I am taking the over.
Prediction: Over 213.5