- The Denver Nuggets will try to regroup for Game 2 against the LA Lakers in the West Finals
- LA built a huge lead and didn’t let it slip away, turning Game 1 into a runaway win
- Read below for odds, analysis and our Game 2 prediction
Perhaps the Los Angeles Lakers are showing us the powerhouse title favorites they are in the NBA Playoffs.
Then again, maybe the Denver Nuggets have them exactly where they want them.
And perhaps both can be true, as the Lakers crushed the Nuggets in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
Game 2 runs Sunday night, and the Lakers vs Nuggets odds are tilting heavy to the Purple and Gold.
Nuggets vs Lakers Series Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Denver Nuggets||+7.5 (-110)||+260||O 213 (-110)|
|Los Angeles Lakers||-7.5 (-110)||-320||U 213 (-110)|
Odds taken September 18. Game 2 tip-off is Sunday at 7:30pm
Denver is the first team to come back from a pair of 3-1 series deficits in the same playoffs just to get in this position, but there are some factors they’ve yet to encounter as they face the Lakers. Let’s see if it’s something they can overcome, at least in Game 2.
Lakers’ Defense Is Elite
There have now been a few instances these playoffs where LeBron James’ statline would have meant certain doom. But that he scored 15 points and had 12 assists and the Lakers were into extended garbage time early in the third quarter tells you they’re getting it done on the other end of the court.
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNationLAX) September 19, 2020
After trailing by two points at the end of the first quarter, where they surrendered 38 points, the Lakers put the clamps down on the Nuggets to start the second. LA put together a 17-1 run, and proceeded to hold Denver to 41 total points through the two middle quarters, outscoring them by 26 points and putting the game on ice.
Nikola Jokic got his first taste of a legit big man rotation in the playoffs, and it was a rough outing.
Game 2: Sunday at 7:30pm/et on TNT pic.twitter.com/NaAgJAQTuF
— NBA (@NBA) September 19, 2020
The trio of JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis held him to 21 points and six rebounds, while getting him into foul trouble early. Perhaps the most notable stat was his two assists, as LA’s gameplan was to put the vice on the Denver’s offensive hub, which put the rest of the Nuggets out of sorts.
Davis also put together perhaps his most complete effort in the playoffs, pouring in a game-high 37 points while adding 10 boards.
Denver’s Comeback Magic Stalls
It became almost comical in their last series with the Clippers how often we’d see the Nuggets fall behind by double digits, only to see them rally back to win.
That formula didn’t happen here, and it’s because the Lakers stayed true to their identity and pounded the paint.
— NBA (@NBA) September 19, 2020
Los Angeles leads the bubble in paint points, averaging 50 a game, and they popped 54 in Game 1. Of the NBA’s final four, the Lakers also average the second-most free throw attempts behind the Miami Heat.
Caruso to LeBron alley-oop pic.twitter.com/hkmbqIUwQA
— Top Ball Coverage (@TopBallCoverage) September 19, 2020
By getting good shots in the paint — where they also lead the NBA postseason in field goal shooting — and getting to the stripe early and often, they were able to stamp out any runs before it got to situation critical. LA also got the running game going, dropping in 16 fast-break points, many of the spectacular variety.
Playoff Rondo is a real thing. Rajon Rondo has been a huge impact player for the Lakers since getting into action in the Houston series. He dished out nine assists in Game 1, turning the Lakers into Lob City 2.0. He helped propel the Lakers to 33 dimes on 44 field goals made.
Rajon Rondo passed Michael Jordan for 10th on the all-time list for career postseason assists. pic.twitter.com/K4H4As61kK
— ESPN (@espn) September 19, 2020
Rondo’s scoring is an added bonus, but his ability to run the floor and seek out opportunities for his teammates to score has been a huge relief for James. It has made the Lakers more dangerous, and it’s no coincidence that they’ve won by double digits in four of their last five games.
What’s the Best Bet?
The Nuggets took their medicine in their Round 2 opener against the Clippers, but bounced back to win and even the series.
Jamal Murray had 21 points, but he was frustrated most of the evening, and couldn’t get cooking enough to keep his team in it. He and Jokic should be better, but some help might be nice. Michael Porter Jr was the only other Nugget in double digits.
But the Lakers’ defense is going to be tough, and you can expect James to be in attack mode. Twice he’s been under 20 points in these playoffs, and he’s bounced back with 38 and 29-point efforts. He’ll be huge, and LA is going to roll.
The pick: Lakers -7.5 (-110)
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