- The Lakers and Nuggets matchup on Monday, May 3rd
- Los Angeles has slipped into the play-in spots following Sunday’s loss to Toronto
- Read below for a betting preview, the latest odds and a pick
The Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers have a rematch of the 2020 Western Conference finals on Monday evening. Going into the game as narrow favorites, the Nuggets continue to surge even after Jamal Murray’s season-ending injury. The Lakers, in contrast, are in something nearing crisis. As it stands, the reigning champions would face the play-in tournament, and LeBron James left Sunday’s game early with ankle soreness.
It’s split 1-1 in the season series thus far, with the Lakers winning in the most recent game on Valentine’s Day. The pressure is off the Nuggets right now, though, having pulled well away from the play-in and moved into the top three.
The opposite is very much the case for the Lakers, who face a brutal stretch of games after losses to the Raptors, Kings and Wizards.
Nuggets vs Lakers Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total Points|
|Denver Nuggets||-3 (-110)||-144||O 218.5 (-110)|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+3 (-110)||+122||U 218.5 (-110)|
Odds as of May 3rd
Lakers In Turmoil
Avoiding the play-in has been the goal for the Lakers since LeBron James hurt his ankle many weeks ago. They had done a good job of treading water. Sunday’s loss has seen them fall into seventh in the West, however, and the frustration across the roster was evident in their post-game media availability. James was particularly irritated by the prospect of the play-in.
LeBron James on the play-in tournament: "Whoever came up with that s— needs to be fired"
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 3, 2021
Their injury report remains cluttered. James playing the second night of a back-to-back so soon after his return from injury seems unlikely. Perhaps Anthony Davis takes the night off too. Whatever lineup the Lakers run out on Monday, little from their recent performances suggests their odds should be any better than this.
They are 22nd in net rating over the last 15 games, with only four tanking teams owning a worse offensive rating over that span.
Anthony Davis is so checked out I’m surprised he’s not wearing a “that’s all folks” shirt
— Daman Rangoola (@damanr) May 3, 2021
It would be generous to say Davis has looked rusty. He is shooting under 42% from the field and has a net rating of -9 over the last five games. If there’s no James, this version of Davis is not going to be able to elevate the Lakers offense sufficiently against the white-hot Denver Nuggets.
No Stopping the Nuggets
It’s five wins on the bounce for Denver, and they’ve gone 9-1 over their last 10. They might have lost the majority of their backcourt rotation, but the combination of continued MVP play from Nikola Jokic, the all-round impact of Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr’s breakout has kept Denver relevant.
They are up to third in the Western Conference, having remarkably overtaken the Clippers after their win last time out.
Only the Wizards and Knicks own a better net rating than the Nuggets over this 9-1 stretch. They are sixth in true shooting over that span, powered by not only Jokic, but also Porter’s ability to hit seemingly ever shot.
MPJ since Jamal Murray injury:
The Nuggets are 6-1 in that span. pic.twitter.com/fu9qrnFXnS
— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 27, 2021
Denver has taken a real step forward on the defensive end, ranking 8th in the league over this span. There’s no Murray, no Will Barton or Monte Morris, but the Nuggets are a force to be reckoned with at both ends of the floor.
Denver Keep Rolling
The Lakers’ 1-6 run isn’t getting any easier here. For all the understandable speculation about the Nuggets dropping off following Murray’s injury, they continue to play exceptional basketball. The Lakers are agitated and banged up, and there’s uncertainty over which players will take the hardwood on Monday night.
While Los Angeles remains a tough matchup for the Nuggets in theory, and they would like to avoid them in a first-round series, the relative state of the two teams right now makes it impossible to look past Jokic and co.
Pick: Denver Nuggets -2 (-110)
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