The Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers are both used to getting off to slow starts – but the Nuggets have turned their late heroics into the stuff of legend as they prepare to tangle with LeBron James and company in Game 1 of the Western Conference final Friday night. The Nuggets have rallied from a 3-1 best-of-seven series deficit to win each of their first two matchups.
Opening Odds Analysis
The Lakers opened Game 1 as a 6.5-point favorite and are now installed at -7 across the board. The total of 211.5 has dropped a half-point in the majority of spots.
Denver News & Notes
The Nuggets turned a 3-1 hole into one of the most stunning comebacks in playoff history with a tremendous commitment to defense. Denver limited the heavily favored Los Angeles Clippers to an average of 97 points over the final four games of the series, and saved its best for Game 7, suffocating Kawhi Leonard by holding the superstar forward to a paltry 14 points.
The transformation on offense was just as important, and was centered around the two players who were most instrumental in guiding Denver to its first comeback series win over Utah. Center Nikola Jokic averaged 24 points, 16.7 rebounds and 8.3 assists over the final three games vs the Clippers, while Jamal Murray averaged 29 points, 5.7 boards and 5.7 assists.
Los Angeles News & Notes
The Lakers are a relatively rested bunch after needing just five games to eliminate the Houston Rockets in Round 2 – and that’s great news for LeBron. Not only has the 35-year-old had a few extra days following each of the Lakers’ first two series triumphs, he’s averaging just 34.2 minutes per game – four minutes under his previous low average in a playoff series.
LeBron isn’t the only superstar who will appreciate a few extra days off. Injuries have prevented big man Anthony Davis from playing more than 75 games in any of his first eight NBA seasons, but at just 34.9 minutes per game in the playoffs, the Lakers have been able to give AD some well-timed breathers and keep him healthy for the title run.
Betting Pick: OVER 211 (-110)
These teams have lit up the scoreboard in recent meetings – and while the playoffs are a different animal, we expect both sides to show their offensive chops in what should be an entertaining series opener.
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