The top-seeded Denver Nuggets will look to reach the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, but will have to get past the perennial powerful Los Angeles Lakers to do so. The teams meet Tuesday in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series in Denver. The Lakers (43-39), the seventh seed in the conference, have won all seven previous playoff meetings with Denver, including three Western Conference finals. The Nuggets (53-29), who are the top seed for the first time, split the four regular-season meetings with Los Angeles, winning both games in Denver. Los Angeles leads the all-time regular-season series 113-76, and holds a 25-8 edge in postseason matchups.
Tipoff from Ball Arena is set for 8:30 p.m. ET. Denver is a 6-point favorite in the latest Lakers vs. Nuggets odds from Caesars Sportsbook, while the over/under for total points scored is set at 222. Before making any Lakers vs. Nuggets picks, make sure you check out what proven SportsLine NBA expert Larry Hartstein has to say.
A former lead writer for Covers and The Linemakers, Hartstein combines a vast network of Vegas sources with an analytical approach. Hartstein also excels in the NBA, especially when picking Denver Nuggets games. Over the past 93 Denver matchups, he is 55-35-3 against the spread, returning $1,655 for $100 players.
Now, Hartstein has set its sights on Lakers vs. Nuggets and just locked in his picks and NBA playoff predictions. You can visit SportsLine now to see his picks. Here are the NBA lines and trends for Nuggets vs. Lakers:
- Nuggets vs. Lakers spread: Nuggets -6
- Nuggets vs. Lakers over/under: 222 points
- Nuggets vs. Lakers money line: Lakers +205, Nuggets -250
- LAL: The Lakers are 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games overall
- DEN: The Nuggets are 5-1 ATS in their last six games playing on three or more days rest
- Nuggets vs. Lakers picks: See picks at SportsLine
Featured Game | Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Why the Nuggets can cover
Denver is led by center Nikola Jokic, who is averaging nearly a triple-double during the postseason. In 11 games, Jokic is averaging 30.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 9.7 assists. The seven-year veteran registered 32 points on 13 of 18 shooting from the floor, grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out 12 assists and made a playoff-high three steals for his 11th career playoff triple-double and fifth of this postseason in a 125-100 series-clinching win over Phoenix on Thursday. Jokic averaged 34.5 points, 13.2 rebounds and 10.3 assists in the second round.
The Nuggets are also paced by guard Jamal Murray (questionable, illness). The fifth-year veteran helped oust the Suns by scoring 26 points on 7 of 16 shooting in the Game 6 victory. Murray also had four rebounds, four assists and a playoff-high four steals in 35 minutes of action. In 11 postseason games, he is averaging 25.9 points, 6.5 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 38.4 minutes. See which team to pick here.
Why the Lakers can cover
Small forward LeBron James narrowly missed a triple-double in Friday’s close-out victory over the Golden State Warriors. In the 122-101 win, James scored 30 points, while adding nine rebounds, nine assists, two steals and one block. In 12 playoff games, James is averaging 23.4 points, 10 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.3 blocks. He played well in three regular-season games against the Nuggets this year, averaging 25 points, 7.3 rebounds and seven assists.
Power forward Anthony Davis has nine double-doubles this postseason, and is coming off a monster game against the Warriors. In Friday’s win, he scored 17 points, while pulling down 20 rebounds. The eight-time NBA all-star earned Western Conference Player of the Month honors for March and April. In 12 postseason starts, he is averaging 21.2 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists on 53% shooting. See which team to pick here.
How to make Lakers vs. Nuggets picks
Hartstein is leaning Under on the total, and he has identified a critical X-factor he says makes one side of the spread a must-back. You can find out what it is, and see which side of the Nuggets vs. Lakers spread to back, at SportsLine.
Who wins Lakers vs. Nuggets, and what critical x-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Lakers vs. Nuggets spread you need to jump on Tuesday, all from the expert who has returned over $1,650 to $100 players over his last 93 Denver Nuggets picks, and find out.