- Go to BetOnline or Bovada for the latest odds on the Nuggets vs Lakers matchup
- Los Angeles wasted a 40-point effort from Anthony Davis in Game 1 on Tuesday
- ESPN airs Game 2 from Ball Arena in Denver, CO on Thursday, May 18 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Nikola Jokic led his Nuggets a 1-0 series lead over the Lakers with a dominant triple-double performance (34 points, 21 rebounds, 14 assists) on Tuesday. Denver led by as many 21 points before almost blowing it down the stretch after Los Angeles made some key defensive adjustments in the second half.
Can LeBron James’ club even the series on on Thursday night? Before Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals tips off, let’s look at the opening line and make our picks. You can also check out the latest 2023 NBA Playoff Betting Odds and our guide to betting on NBA basketball.
Nuggets vs Lakers – Game 2
|Los Angeles Lakers
|Ov 227 (-115)
|Un 227 (-105)
Nikola goes nuts in Game 1
Nikola Jokic racked up 19 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists to give Denver a 72-54 lead at the half on Tuesday. With Anthony Davis unable to contain the two-time NBA MVP, Darvin Ham switched up his strategy. The Lakers coach used Rui Hachimura to guard the Serbian in the second half with AD providing help defense in the paint.
Once trailing by as many as 21 points, Los Angeles closed the gap to three points and came within a missed LeBron James 3-pointer and turnover from stealing Game 1. It was a crucial victory for the top-seeded Nuggets, given that James has won his last 20 playoff series when his team captured the opener.
NIKOLA JOKIC TONIGHT:
GENERATIONAL TALENT pic.twitter.com/e21IZsnakz
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) May 17, 2023
Can the Lakers rebound?
Los Angeles won the opener in both the Grizzlies and Warriors series this postseason. So, despite registering 26 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, LeBron is likely frustrated in himself for letting Game 1 slip through his fingers.
The Lakers essentially wasted a 40-point, 10-rebound performance from Anthony Davis, a 23-point effort from Austin Reaves, and a 17-point night from Hachimura. However, they only got 20 total points from the rest of their roster. Their bench will need to be much better on Thursday to even the series.
Denver vs Los Angeles – Game 2
Denver is a 5.5-point home favorite on Thursday night. Michael Malone’s club is now 7-0 in the postseason and 41-7 overall at Ball Arena, the best home record in the league. In addition to Jokic balling out, Jamal Murray scored 31 points and six Nuggets put up double-figures on Tuesday. With extra defensive attention headed the Joker’s way, Denver’s role players will have to come up big again.
The over/under for Game 2 is set at 227 points. There were certainly plenty of baskets in the opener. With 258 points, Game 1 was the highest-scoring conference finals game that didn’t go to overtime since 1987.
LeBron James in the final minutes tonight:
2 Missed FT
1 Missed Game Tying Shot
LEMICKEY IS BACK 😤👀🗣‼️ pic.twitter.com/9ohKhlikDD
— Hater Central (@TheHateCentral) May 17, 2023
Los Angeles had permitted just 106.5 points per 100 possessions this postseason. But the NBA’s top defensive team got smoked by the league’s best offense on Tuesday as Denver scored a playoff-high 132 points.
While LeBron and AD will be hard-pressed to play any better in Game 2, we like the Lakers to steal one on the road on Thursday night.
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