The Nuggets are favored to take a 2–0 lead over the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals on Thursday night.
Denver held off Los Angeles furious second-half comeback attempt in the series opener Tuesday and won 132-126 win. The spread for Game 2 (-5.5) is tighter than it was in Game 1 (-7), which was a duel between Nikola Jokić, who amassed a 34-point triple-double, and Anthony Davis, who finished with a game-high 40 points.
Below are a few betting picks and trends to note, along with one key question ahead of the second game of the West Finals, which tips off at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Nikola Jokić Breaks 30 Yet Again: Bet Jokić Over 29.5 Points
Jokić has led Denver in scoring in four straight games, three of which saw him eclipse the 30-point threshold, including Game 1, when he scored 34. His average in the playoffs is 31 points per game on ridiculous 56/51/80 shooting splits. L.A. had an answer for the two-time MVP in the fourth quarter, but he had already done plenty of damage on offense up to that point. As Jokić looks for his shot more than he did in the regular season and continues to keep up his incredible shooting efficiency, hes made scoring more than 29.5 points (-102) somewhat of an easy task.
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LeBron James Player Props: Not Easy to Bet on the King
The over/under for LeBron James' points is 25.5, but bettors won't find plus money on either side when betting on the "King." While James has exceeded that prop in his last two outings, including Game 1 against the Nuggets, he's failed to hit that number in four of his last seven games. His assist prop sits at 6.5 and again neither side has a plus-money payout. The Lakers' superstar hasn't consistently exceeded this prop number either, registering more than seven assists in just three. Oddsmakers list his rebound prop at 9.5 which is right in line with James' recent performances. The under is heavily juiced at -145 and while James is coming off a 12-rebound game he's failed to hit the over in the previous five games. Given the lack of plus-money options and his inconsistencies, stay away from betting on James in Game 2.
Michael Porter Jr. Stays Active on the Glass: Bet Porter Over 6.5 Rebounds
Porter has upped his rebounding numbers from 5.5 boards in the regular season to 7.8 in the playoffs, second on the team behind Jokić. He corralled 10 misses in Game 1 as the Nuggets out-rebounded the Lakers 47-30 (15-5 on the offensive glass). Porter has logged five games with at least 10 rebounds and hes gone over 6.5 rebounds (-115) in seven of 12 postseason games. He also grabbed seven and nine boards in two regular-season meetings with Los Angeles.
Rui Hachimura Cools Off: Bet Hachimura Under 11.5 Points
Hachimura has had some spike games off the bench for the L.A. throughout this playoff run and Game 1 was one of them. On 8-11 shooting, he tallied 17 points, more than he scored in his three previous appearances combined. Perhaps even more notable was his defense on Jokić, which kept him on the floor for 28 minutes, his most since Round 1. Hachimura went well over on his points prop in Game 1 (7.5 points), but hes scored fewer than 11.5 points (-111) — his Game 2 over/under — in eight of 13 postseason games. He also hasnt scored double-digit points in back-to-back games since Games 2 and 3 of the Memphis series.
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Will the Offensive Efficiency Seen in Game 1 Carry Over?
It wasnt even halfway through the fourth quarter of the series opener when the over hit. Denver and Los Angeles both shot better than 54% from the field and 45% from three in a game that saw a whopping 258 points scored, well north of the 222.5 over/under for the contest. The Nuggets 132 points scored were the most theyve scored in the postseason and the Lakers 126 was their third-highest total in the playoffs. The total for Game 2 has gone up to 226.5, and if these offenses perform anything like they did on Tuesday, they could clear that mark with ease.
NBA Playoffs Betting Record: 19–20
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