Lakers vs. Nuggets Odds, Pick, Prediction: Plenty of Points on the Horizon (January 9)

Action Network contributor Austin Wang previews Monday's NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets, including a betting pick.

Editor’s Note: The Los Angeles Lakers have announced that LeBron James (ankle) won’t play Monday against the Denver Nuggets.

Lakers vs. Nuggets Odds

Lakers Odds +9
Nuggets Odds -9
Over/Under 239.5
Time 9 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Two of the league’s hottest teams collide on Monday night when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the top seed in the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets.

The Lakers are on a five-game winning streak (all as underdogs) while the Nuggets have won 12 of their past 15 games. This will be the fourth and final matchup between these two teams this season. The Lakers are winning the season series 2-1 after winning both home games. As of Sunday evening, the injury report looks clean for both teams, but we have been prone to surprises with these squads.

Can the Lakers keep their win streak alive against the Nuggets, or will the Nuggets get revenge for their two losses earlier in the season? Let’s dig into this game to see if there is any value in the betting market.

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Los Angeles Lakers

After Anthony Davis suffered a foot injury in mid-December that would sideline him for at least a month, the outlook for the Lakers season was bleak. Even though they are still two games below .500, they’ve been on a nice winning streak. LeBron James, at the age of 38, continues to dominate as if he were in his prime.

Big man Thomas Bryant has stepped up in Davis’s absence. He is averaging 16.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game in his 12 starts since Davis suffered his injury. Bryant has had four double-doubles during this five-game winning streak and has been crucial to the Lakers’ success. However, none of those games were against a player the caliber of two-time reigning MVP, Nikola Jokic.

Have Los Angeles turned its season around?

We will see. The Lakers have a tough three-game stretch ahead of them. After this matchup against the Nuggets, they’ll have to face the Mavericks and 76ers.

One thing we know for sure is the Lakers play at a fast tempo. They are second in the league in Pace (102.8) and are first (104.9) in their previous five games, per NBA Advanced Stats. Their Offensive Rating in their previous five games is second in the league, only behind the Nuggets. They are league’s best team to the over at 24-16 (60%). I think they can continue scoring at a high rate against the Nuggets, who rank 23rd in Defensive Rating.

Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets have been a dominant team at home this season. They are 16-3 straight up at the Ball Arena and have won 10 straight there. Jokic was out for one of those games.

Unlike last season, Jokic finally has some depth around him as his supporting cast has been healthier this year. Michael Porter Jr. has played in nine consecutive games. His shooting percentages have been mixed, but he’s shown flashes of his old self. Jamal Murray has found his shot in recent games is also playing himself back into form. Bones Hyland has established himself as a consistent source of instant offense off the bench.

However, it has been Aaron Gordon who has been the Nuggets’ second-best player. His resurgence and impact on both ends of the floor is one main reason the Nuggets are so successful.

The Nuggets are tied with the Boston Celtics for first in Offensive Rating. Denver is first in the league in the past five games by a wide margin (122.7). The Nuggets biggest flaw is their defense, which is 23rd in the league in Defensive Rating. They live by the quote: “The best defense is a good offense.”

With the Lakers playing at such a fast pace and at a high level offensively, I see the potential for points here. I see the tempo being fast, especially in those minutes when they play James at center. DeAndre Jordan may be unplayable, and that will be good for the over.  Russell Westbrook and Hyland will keep the pace fast when the second units sub in.

Lakers-Nuggets Pick

The Nuggets are in a “revenge” spot. They’ve already lost twice to the Lakers this season. I think this line is too long against the Lakers playing in their current form. However, I am not interested in backing the Lakers against Denver at home either. Instead, I will focus on the total.

The league has seen a boom in overs over the past few weeks, as offense and scoring have skyrocketed.

Since Dec. 19, 2022, the league has seen its games go 87-65-2 (57.2%) to the over, per the SDQL. Average market totals have adjusted and increased, so we could see an “unders” correction coming soon. However, until then, I am backing the over for these teams.

Both have high-powered offenses and thrive in transition. The Lakers and Nuggets are fourth and sixth in fast break points, respectively. Also, both teams rank in bottom 10 in Defensive Rating.  I make the total here 242 and would play this up to 241.

Pick: Over 239.5 | Play to 241

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