The Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers will close down their regular-season series Monday night at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida. The Lakers lead the series 2-1, but they’ve lost 12 of their previous 19 encounters with the Nuggets.
While the Lakers have already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, the Nuggets are battling for the second seed, so let’s check out the most important tips and trends along with our best betting picks for Monday’s clash.
The Nuggets could miss Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee), as both guys are listed as doubtful to play. The Lakers are without Rajon Rondo (thumb), while Danny Green is questionable due to a hip injury.
Los Angeles opened as a 5.5-point fave with a total of 222.0 points on BetAmerica. I’m a bit surprised to see the Lakers at 5.5 points, as they have nothing to play for here.
What’s at Stake?
As I’ve mentioned, the Lakers are No. 1 seed in the West and will remain the second-best team in the NBA behind the Milwaukee Bucks. On the other side, the Nuggets are No. 3 seed at the moment. They were 1.5 games behind the Clippers and two games ahead of the fourth-seeded Rockets on Sunday.
If both Clippers and Rockets win Sunday night, the Nuggets will need a couple of wins in their ultimate three games of the season to clinch the No. 3 seed in the west.
The Nuggets will play the Clippers and Raptors following Monday’s game, so their schedule seems very tough. Denver is coming off a 134-132 overtime victory over Utah this past Saturday.
The Lakers lost to Indiana 116-111 on Saturday, extending their losing streak to three games. They will close down the regular season against the Sacramento Kings.
The Lakers are 2-1 straight up and ATS in three games against the Nuggets this season. Two of those three contests went in the over, while the over is 12-6-2 in the last 20 meetings between the Lakers and Nuggets. Denver is 12-7 SU and ATS in its last 19 encounters with the Lakers.
Maybe because they’ve already clinched the playoffs, but the Lakers played some lousy defense against the Pacers, allowing them to shoot 52.4% from the field and 45.5% from beyond the arc. The Lakers’ defensive rating of 105.6 points allowed per 100 possessions is the third-best in the NBA, while they are sixth in opponent FG% (.445) and 3P% (.344), too.
LeBron James played 35 minutes against the Pacers, although he’s had some injury worries last week. James dropped 31 points on Indiana, but Anthony Davis added just eight points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field.
Davis will have to step up defensively against the Nuggets, as Nikola Jokic has been terrific lately. The Joker posted a triple-double against OKC while accounting for 30 points, 11 boards, and seven assists against the Jazz this past Saturday.
The Nuggets’ offense looks good, but their defense is a problem. Denver is yielding 124.2 points per game in the bubble.
Honestly, I think the bookies have made a mistake, so go and take the Nuggets to cover. They have so much on the table in this game, and I believe they will keep it close, at least. I’ve already predicted an upset in the Pacers versus Lakers matchup, and this could be another surprising outcome.
If you’re satisfied with -138 odds, take the Nuggets as 7-point dogs on Sugarhouse. I would stay away from the totals and stick with the Nuggets. The betting trends are suggesting the over, but the Lakers will try to improve defensively, while Nikola Jokic has a tough matchup with Anthony Davis. Hereof, I’m not sure we’ll see a high-scoring affair.