- After their Game 4 win in the West Finals, the Lakers are a win away from the NBA Finals
- This is the third series in a row the Denver Nuggets are down 3-1
- Read below for odds, analysis and our Game 5 prediction
The Los Angeles Lakers are just a win away from a trip to the NBA Finals after a narrow 114-108 win in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday night.
But down 3-1 in their best-of-seven series, the Denver Nuggets are the most dangerous team in playoff history, and seem right at home in the elimination zone.
We’ll find out who prevails in Game 5 on Saturday night.
Nuggets vs Lakers Game 5 Odds
|Denver Nuggets||+6.0 (-110)||+205||N/A|
|Los Angeles Lakers||-6.0 (-110)||-255||N/A|
Odds from FanDuel taken September 24. Game 2 tip-off is Saturday at 9:05pm
Looking at the Nuggets vs Lakers odds, and it doesn’t seem like Denver’s perfect playoff elimination record in the bubble has oddsmakers worried. But should you be? Let’s explore and find the best bet for you.
Lakers’ Dynamic Duo Shines
It’s common knowledge that the Lakers can go as far as LeBron James and Anthony Davis can take them, and that was the case in Game 4. Davis came out as an offensive dynamo, scoring the first 10 points of the game, en route to a game-high 34 points, along with five rebounds, three assists and three steals. We’ll let it slide that this was the second straight game he’s been held to zero rebounds in the first half.
Anthony Davis made this with one eye. 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/nWjhdVdxoJ
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) September 25, 2020
James was steady as a wingman, chipping in 26 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, while also taking on the defensive responsibility of handling red-hot Jamal Murray down the stretch.
Lebron James switched up with Rondo in guarding duties on Jamal Murray at the 5:45 mark of the 4Q.
Jamal Murray went 0 of 3 from the field with four points, 1 assist, 1 turnover.
As a team, Denver had just two field goals in that span. 12 total points. pic.twitter.com/ymYyEtxDB8
— Anthony Jaskulski (@AnthonyJazz) September 25, 2020
The pair also made a concerted effort to attack, as each attempted 14 free throws apiece. According to Elias, the Lakers improved to 18-1 this year when AD and James combine for 60+ points. Coincidentally, that’s the second-best record by a tandem in NBA history, trailing only another stellar Purple and Gold duo: Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
Dwight Howard putback dunk pic.twitter.com/B3NC6pL2Vk
— Lakers Empire (@LakersEmpire) September 25, 2020
But perhaps most encouraging was the chip-ins down the roster. Dwight Howard got his first start in a West Finals since 2015 and shined, finishing with 12 points and 11 boards. Rajon Rondo was again the third best player on the team, adding 11 points and seven dimes. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kule Kuzma also scored in double figures.
After getting outrebounded by 19 in a Game 3 loss, LA was a +8 in Game 4.
If Davis and James do their part, and get contributions from multiple sources, it’s going to be pretty hard to deny them a trip to the Finals.
Murray Incredible, Could Use Help
We’re running out of superlatives to describe the play of Jamal Murray. The Canadian went for a team-high 32 points and eight assists, with many of his makes of the spectacular variety. Unfortunately, his fellow starters didn’t do enough to support him.
This Jamal Murray layup was incredible 😱 pic.twitter.com/hsDg3rJyJ0
— ESPN (@espn) September 25, 2020
Fellow all-star Nikola Jokic had an off-night, getting beat on the glass by Howard early, and then getting into foul trouble that really upended his rhythm. He finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Paul Millsap was in foul trouble all game and was a non-factor while Gary Harris had just three points in 19 minutes of play.
Nuggets may not have another 3-1 comeback in them but I applaud them for this playoff run. Genuinely been a pleasure to watch. If a couple calls or bounces go their way, this Lakers series is tied. But they’re not going away. Jokic is 25. Murray is 23. Denver’s future is bright.
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) September 25, 2020
Denver’s final stat lines should have been enough to win: they shot 50.6% from the field and 35.7% from deep — both better percentages than the Lakers. But they surrendered 12 offensive rebounds, which led to a 25-6 disadvantage in second-chance points. They were also minus-8 from the free-throw line. Playing catchup for much of the night, those were the factors that sealed LA’s win.
What’s the Best Bet?
Minus a Davis buzzer-beater in Game 2 and a few other breaks, it’s not unrealistic to say the Nuggets could be tied in this series or potentially even up 3-1.
But even good basketball players and 48 minutes of pretty good play sometimes can’t trump a team with two top-5 NBA talents. That’s the problem Denver is faced with when they square off with AD and LeBron.
Lakers and Nuggets are tied 325-325 since Game 1. The AD shot is quite literally the difference.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) September 25, 2020
Then again, you don’t survive two previous 3-1 series deficits to a sturdy Utah team and a championship-caliber Clippers team without having some resolve.
Expect Jokic to come out with his best game of the playoffs, and for Murray to make the proper adjustments to clutch up in the fourth if LeBron is on him again.
I like the Lakers to win, but Denver is going to make them earn it.
The pick: Nuggets -6.0 (-110)
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