By Adam Thompson | | 3 mins
NBA Western Conference Finals: Lakers vs Nuggets Odds & Picks
The Battle for L.A. will have to wait. The Western Conference Finals are set, and it features LeBron James and the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.
The Lakers plowed through the Trail Blazers and Rockets through the opening two series, each in five games, to get this far. After missing the playoffs with the Lakers last year, James has now led his team to nine conference finals appearances in the last 10 seasons.
It’s a different story for the Nuggets, who finished third in the Western Conference regular season but upended the favored Los Angeles Clippers in seven games in the second round. This is only their third conference finals in 40 years. The last two ended in defeat – in each instance to the Lakers.
NBA Western Conference Finals Betting Guide
Series Odds: Lakers -750, Nuggets +470
It typically takes star power to win NBA titles, and the Nuggets are now in the lofty arena of having a pair of them. In the decisive Game 7 win over the Clippers, Jamal Murray scored 40 points and Jokic registered a triple-double. Murray was massive in the Round 1 series win over the Jazz, and Jokic was the man who led Denver to the NBA’s sixth-best record.
Of course, no team has star power like the Lakers. James has been there, done that, to the tune of three NBA championships. Anthony Davis is among the NBA’s short list of “best player without a ring” conversations.
These teams faced off four times this season. The Lakers won three of four, but all three victories were by single digits, including one in overtime. The Nuggets romped to a 24-point victory, but James didn’t play – that’s a big asterisk. Davis led the team in scoring twice, LeBron once, and they co-led in one of the victories.
Davis thoroughly outplayed Jokic in the regular-season meetings. Something has to change for the Nuggets to compete here. But this is LeBron’s time now. When it comes to matchups, Davis consistently outdueled Jokic, and there is no answer for LeBron.
The Pick: Lakers in 6
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3 Lakers-Nuggets Betting Tips
Back AD: In the four regular-season matchups, Davis averaged 29.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Jokic, meanwhile, averaged 19.5 points and 5.8 rebounds. If the NBA betting props are expecting season averages, back Davis or fade Jokic.
Following The Trends: Denver has held close to L.A., covering in 19 of the last 28 meetings. Too much rest hasn’t been great for the Lakers, who are 1-5 ATS in their last six followed a break of three days or longer – an omen for Game 1? You can compare the latest NBA game odds here.
Defensive Wins: Both teams have standout offensive players, but defense is where both teams have hung their hats. The Lakers rank fourth in points allowed, the Nuggets 11th. The Under is 6-0-2 in Denver’s last eight games, and has hit in four of L.A.’s last five.
Adam Thompson’s Previous NBA Western Conference Picks
First-round picks: Lakers over Blazers, Clippers over Mavericks, Jazz over Nuggets and Thunder over Rockets. Record: 2-2
Second-round picks: Lakers over Rockets, Clippers over Nuggets. Record: 1-1