Nikola Jokićs Nuggets are favored in Game 1 at Ball Arena over LeBron James Lakers; these teams split the regular-season series, 2–2.The rematch of the 2020 Western Conference Finals begins Tuesday night in the Mile High City.
In that series, the No. 1-seeded Lakers beat the No. 3 Nuggets in five games on their way to an NBA title. This time around, Denver is the top seed in the conference and is the favorite to advance to the Finals over seventh-seeded Los Angeles, which began its postseason run in the play-in tournament. Nuggets are favored in Game 1 at Ball Arena over LeBron James Lakers; these teams split the regular-season series, 2–2.
Below are a few picks, trends and one key question ahead of the series opener, which begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Denver Covers at Home: Bet Nuggets -6
The Wests No. 1 seed rarely loses at home. Denver had the second-best record in front of its fans in the regular season (34–7) and is 6–0 so far in the playoffs. That includes a 5–1 mark against the spread in the postseason and a 30–16–1 mark for the year. The Nuggets are six-point favorites (-112) against the Lakers in Game 1 and they already beat them by 11 and 13 on this floor earlier in the season. For what its worth, Los Angeles stole the opener on the road as an underdog in its first two series, though Denver won both of its Game 1s by double digits and its average margin of victory at Ball Arena in the playoffs is 14.2 points.
Nikola Jokić Player Prop: Bet Jokić to Record a Triple Double
Jokić is just three assists shy of a triple-double average for the entire postseason and hes fresh off a monster stat line in the Suns series: 34.5 points, 13.2 rebounds and 10.2 assists per game. Similarly, against the Lakers in the regular season he was just 0.2 assists shy of a triple-double average across four meetings. The two-time MVP, who recorded a triple double in three of his last four games, can be bet at plus odds (+115) to do so yet again in Game 1.
Austin Reaves Player Prop: Bet Reaves Over 1.5 Three-Pointers
Reaves lit up the Warriors from outside in the second half of their second-round series. The second-year guard shot 4-14 in the first three games of the series and then went 10-17 in the final three. He hit two or more three-pointers in four out of six games against Golden State and in three regular-season games against Denver he shot 50% from outside. You do have to lay some juice (-138) on this prop, but Reaves was close to a 40% shooter from deep all year and his attempts have only gone up in the postseason.
No. 1 Offense in the Playoffs Against the Best Defense: Who Wins?
This matchup is not only a meeting between James and Jokić, two basketball masterminds, but its a showdown between the team with the No. 1 offensive rating in the playoffs and the squad that boasts the No. 1 defensive rating. Something will have to give. The Nuggets are the model of efficiency — theyre shooting close to 49% from the field, just under 38% from three and over 81% from the free-throw line. The Lakers, meanwhile, are holding opponents to a postseason-best 42.2% from the field, swat 7.1 shots per game and defend the three better than any team thats still standing. The over/under for the series opener is set at 222.5 and Denvers team total is set at 114.5.
NBA Playoffs Betting Record: 16–17
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