LeBron’s Lakers to score road upset over Jokic’s Nuggets in Game 1

  • Go to BetOnline or Bovada for the latest odds on the Nuggets vs Lakers matchup
  • LeBron James is 10-1 all-time in the conference finals and coming off a vintage 30-point performance
  • TNT airs Game 1 from Ball Arena in Denver, CO on Tuesday, May 16 at 8:30 p.m. ET

LeBron James is just four wins away from his 11th Finals appearance. Can the Lakers knock off the top team in the Western Conference on their home court or will two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic continue his dominant postseason run?

Before Game 1 tips off on Tuesday night, 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 1

BetOnline ReviewSpreadMoney LineTotal Points
Los Angeles Lakers+6.0 (-115)+190Ov 222.5 (-110)
Denver Nuggets-6.0 (-105)-220Un 222.5 (-110)

Series preview

Denver and Los Angeles split their season series 2-2, however the Lakers defeated them in five games in the 2020 conference finals. While only six players who saw minutes in that series will compete in this year’s rematch, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, and Jamal Murray were four of them.

Michael Malone’s club posted the best-record (53-29) in the Western Conference this season. But, that won’t intimidate an L.A. team that has already knocked off the the No. 2 seed Grizzlies and the defending champion Warriors. From a historical perspective, the Purple & Gold are eight wins from their 18th title while the Nuggets franchise has never once made the NBA Finals.

Jokic vs Davis matchup

Denver’s the most offensively efficient team in the NBA playoffs with 118.7 points per 100 possessions through the first two rounds. Meanwhile, Los Angeles has permitted just 106.5 points per 100 possessions this postseason. Nikola Jokic averaged a triple-double (34.5 points, 13.2 rebounds, 10.3 assists) in the Nuggets’ 4-2 series victory over Phoenix. In four matchups versus LA this year, the Serbian big man recorded 23.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 9.8 assists per game.

With Anthony Davis on the floor, the Lakers are allowing their opponents to shoot just 47.9% in the paint. Seemingly healthy for the first time in years, the Brow has playoff averages of 21.2 points, 14.1 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per contest.

Denver NuggetsTo Win Series
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Phoenix SunsTo Win Series
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Home court looms large

Denver is a 6-point home favorite on Tuesday night. They are a perfect 6-0 at home this postseason with an average margin of victory of 14 points. The Nuggets also defeated the Lakers by 11 and 13 points in their two regular-season meetings at Ball Arena.

After starting the year with a 2-10 record, Los Angeles is only the fourth team in NBA history to make the conference finals after sitting under .500 at any point of the season. However, Darvin Ham’s club has a scintillating 27-13 record since the trade deadline. The Lakers also found a way to win Game 1 on the road against both Memphis and Golden State.

Best Bet

LeBron James snapped a streak of 18 consecutive playoff games scoring under 30 points with a vintage performance to eliminate Golden State last Friday. The 38-year-old is just the sixth player in NBA history to reach 12 conference finals in his career.

Unfortunately for Denver, LeBron is 10-1 all-time in the conference finals and no one on the Nuggets roster is remotely capable of guarding him. Look for the Lakers to win Game 1 (+200) and the series (+145). 

Los Angeles LakersTo Win Game 1
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Steve Starr

Steve is the quintessential American sports enthusiast. He has mastered the art of Sundays, devoting them to football, and barbecue parties. He proudly wears the hats of a good father, husband and a great dog owner. Aside from his decades of contributing to different top-tier sports publications, Steve has also found his niche on Twitter, where he publishes funny and relatable sports-related insights. When he's not busy tweeting, Steve loves to watch each game unfold live. He possesses an innate talent for finding humor in the sports world, appreciating both the thrilling moments and the comedic mishaps that make each event unique.