Nuggets vs. Lakers Odds
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Denver Nuggets’ dominant season continues. On Monday night, they’ll look to complete a sweep on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers to reach the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
For LeBron James and the Lakers, their roller coaster of a season appears to be near its end. After all, no team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 series deficit.
Nonetheless, let’s see if there is any betting value we can extract from this Western Conference Finals elimination game.
Here’s a preview of Nuggets vs. Lakers Game 4, plus my betting pick on the spread and a player prop.
Michael Malone mentioned in his press conference after Game 1 that the national narrative continued to revolve around Los Angeles, not Denver. Not enough credit was being given to the superior play of the Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, instead focusing around what the Lakers could do better.
The media has been drooling over a potential Lakers vs. Celtics NBA Finals matchup and under-appreciating what the Nuggets and Heat bring to the table. Jokic even got snubbed for the MVP this season — looking in hindsight, he was the clear and easy choice over Joel Embiid.
Perhaps feeding off the disrespect, the Nuggets have rolled to a 3-0 series lead. Jokic has been amazing as always, but Jamal Murray has been the unsung hero, scoring at least 31 points in all three of the games thus far. He has made up and overcompensated for all of his lost time after missing the entire 2021-2022 season.
It hasn’t just been Jokic and Murray either — all the Nuggets’ role players have stepped up. With their star players demanding so much attention, it’s created wide-open shots all over the court. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been lights-out against his former team, scoring 17 points with four 3-pointers in the Game 3 win.
Los Angeles Lakers
Last game was supposed to be a textbook bounce-back, “zig-zag” spot for the Lakers after falling 0-2 and returning home, where they were previously 6-0 straight up and against the spread in the playoffs. The Nuggets’ road splits were not favorable either, but it didn’t matter. Even with Jokic dealing with foul trouble, the Nuggets pulled away in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers didn’t play poorly, but the Nuggets were just better.
D’Angelo Russell has really struggled against the Nuggets. He is averaging seven points and four assists while shooting 29.6% from the field and 14.3% from behind the arc. His lack of production has made a significant difference; he’s also taking shots away from others, notably Austin Reaves.
Russell is not providing much on the defensive end, which begs the question — what will the Lakers decide to do with him in Game 4? Unless they bench him or he finds a way to get it together, the Lakers season will likely end on Monday.
Speaking of Reaves, his confidence is sky high and his usage continues to increase. He has made at least three 3-pointers in six consecutive games and is averaging 39 minutes per game in this series. With Russell’s struggles and declining minutes, I continue to expect ample opportunities for Reaves. The Lakers need to shoot more threes to keep pace — Reaves gives them the best chance to do so.
James will also need to kick it into extra gear. He hit three 3-pointers in the last game after going 0-for-10 from behind the 3-point line in the first two games. I think this will give him some confidence in his shot and set him up for a big game. It appears he has been conserving his energy throughout the playoffs at times, but I think he goes all out in this elimination spot.
Denver has all the momentum, but I expect the Lakers to make one final push to save face and preserve their dignity. In Games 2-5, favorites off an outright loss as a favorite have gone 153-112-6 (57.7%) ATS in the history of the Killer Sports SDQL database, dating back to the 2002-2003 season. Another zig-zag spot is in play for the Lakers here.
The Lakers still have a significant home-court advantage and the Nuggets’ road splits leave more to be desired. I don’t have as much confidence in the Lakers winning and covering the full game, but I think they come out strong.
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Finally, as mentioned above, I am playing Reaves to go over 2.5 3-pointers made. He has hit this mark in six consecutive games, and I see plenty of opportunity for him to continue the streak.