The Los Angeles Lakers zoomed past the Denver Nuggets in a 126-114 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Friday evening. Just 48 hours later, the Nuggets will aim to even the series in a crucial game for the challengers on Sunday, with the Lakers looking to assume complete control of the proceedings. Will Barton (knee) remains sidelined for the Nuggets. For the Lakers, LeBron James (groin) and Rajon Rondo (back) are listed as probable, with Dion Waiters (groin) listed as doubtful.
Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. ET in Orlando. William Hill lists the Lakers as 7.5-point favorites, holding steady from the opener, while the over-under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 213.5 in the latest Lakers vs. Nuggets odds. Before you make any Nuggets vs. Lakers picks, be sure to see the NBA predictions from SportsLine’s proven computer model.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and it’s already returned over $5,000 in profit on its top-rated NBA picks this season. It entered the week on a blistering 61-33 run on top-rated NBA spread picks, returning almost $2,500 on those picks alone. It’s also a sizzling 11-3 on top-rated picks since the NBA’s restart in July. Anybody who has followed it has seen huge returns.
- Lakers vs. Nuggets spread: Lakers -7.5
- Lakers vs. Nuggets over-under: 213.5 points
- Lakers vs. Nuggets money line: Lakers -330, Nuggets +270
- LAL: The Lakers are 8-2 against the spread in the last 10 games
- DEN: The Nuggets are 7-3 against the spread in the last 10 games
Why the Lakers can cover
The Lakers have been the best team in the NBA Playoffs on a per-possession basis, outscoring their opponents by 9.4 points per 100 possessions. Los Angeles boasts the No. 2 offense at 115.7 points per 100 possessions, and the Lakers rank in the top-five of the postseason in assist rate (62.6 percent), offensive rebound rate (29.7 percent) and free throw rate (30.3 percent).
Elsewhere, the Lakers are one of the most efficient shooting teams in the league, ranking second in both effective field goal percentage (57.0) and true shooting percentage (60.0) in the playoffs. Defensively, the Lakers are also excelling, allowing only 1.06 points per possession. That includes top-three marks in shooting efficiency allowed, turnover creation and steals per game, with a league-leading 6.0 blocks per game in the postseason.
Why the Nuggets can cover
The Nuggets are an explosive, efficient and entertaining offensive team, headlined by Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Jokic has been one of the more valuable players in the entire postseason, averaging 25.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. Murray is also operating at a high level, averaging 26.7 points and 6.3 assists per contest, and the duo helps to make Denver scary for any opposition. The Nuggets rank in the top five of the playoffs in offensive rating, shooting efficiency and offensive rebounding, highlighting a balanced, effective attack.
Defensively, Denver’s numbers are rough overall but much improved recently, including a respectable 1.09 points allowed per possession in the last 11 games. The Nuggets are also strong in limiting damage off turnovers, ranking fourth in the NBA in points allowed off turnovers in the playoffs.
How to make Lakers vs. Nuggets picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning over on the total, with Anthony Davis and Murray projected to exceed their season-long scoring averages. It also says one side of the spread hits well over 50 percent of the time. You can only get the pick at SportsLine.
So who wins Nuggets vs. Lakers? And which side of the spread hits in well over 50 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Lakers vs. Nuggets spread to jump on, all from the advanced model that is up over $5,000 on its top-rated NBA picks this season, and find out.