The Western Conference Finals tips tonight at altitude and for two teams with history against each other, there is no sample of this iteration against each other.
The last time these teams played was on January 9th, so taking much away from those four contests with how the Lakers overhauled their rotation at the trade deadline seems foolish. The added intrigue of how the rosters will attack each other even with so many of the principle parties as known quantities should make for an entertaining series.
Both teams have shown the willingness to run early, especially in a new series and that leads into the play for Game 1.
Lakers vs. Nuggets Betting Odds
Lines accurate at the time of publication
Lakers vs. Nuggets Best Bets
Lakers vs. Nuggets Over 222 (-110, Caesars)
The playoffs are known for the adjustments that occur and being able to provide counters to what has been taken away but with both of these teams, Game 1 has been an experiment and one that has generally led to many points. Since meeting in the bubble, the Nuggets have gone over this total in four of five Game 1s and in those four of five, the Game 1 total was either higher or on par with the average total for the entire series.
Looking at their overall tendencies, the Lakers have the highest pace remaining and are in transition in the most of any team, 17.4% of their possessions on Cleaning the Glass, while the Nuggets have a below average transition defense. When looking at keeping the floor high in the scoring department for both teams, the Lakers have the 11th best playoff offense, so likely having that early series advantage should keep them from bottoming out in Game 1 and tanking the total. Denver figuring out the best way to guard LeBron James while attempting to keep their stars out of foul trouble will likely require on the fly tinkering that could lead to some runway should James decide to push in Game 1.
The Nuggets have the best offense remaining at 121.1 offensive rating and even with the Lakers having the best playoff defense, Denver is a tough team to adjust to at the start of a series because of how differently they play in terms of Jokic running the show and how active they are off the ball. Committing enough resources to the Murray-Jokic pick and roll while not leaving either a lockdown shooter open or room for Aaron Gordon to cut the basket takes time. As both of these teams feel each other out, there should be points on both sides and plenty of tape to look to for adjustments leading into Game 2.
Risk: 1.1 units on Caesars to win 1 unit.
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