The Denver Nuggets look to grab a 2-0 series lead when they take on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the best-of-seven 2023 NBA Western Conference finals on Thursday. Denver built a big first-half lead in Game 1 before hanging on for a 132-126 win on Tuesday. The Lakers (43-39), the seventh seed in the conference, have dominated Denver in the postseason, winning all seven previous meetings, including three West finals. The Nuggets (53-29), who are the top seed for the first time in team history, are 3-0 at home against the Lakers in Denver this season.
Tipoff from Ball Arena is set for 8:30 p.m. ET. Los Angeles leads the all-time regular-season series 113-76, and holds a 25-9 edge in postseason matchups. Denver is a 5.5-point favorite in the latest Lakers vs. Nuggets odds from Caesars Sportsbook, while the over/under for total points scored is set at 227. Before making any Nuggets vs. Lakers 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 94 Denver matchups, he is 55-36-3 against the spread, returning $1,545 for $100 players. Anybody following those picks has seen huge returns.
Now, Hartstein has set his 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 -5.5
- Nuggets vs. Lakers over/under: 227 points
- Nuggets vs. Lakers money line: Nuggets -240, Lakers +196
- LAL: The Lakers are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games overall
- DEN: The Nuggets are 4-1 ATS in their last five games after allowing more than 125 points in their previous game.
- Nuggets vs. Lakers picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Nuggets can cover
Denver center Nikola Jokic is coming off his third consecutive triple-double, scoring 34 points, grabbing 21 rebounds and dishing out 14 assists in the Game 1 win. In 12 postseason games, Jokic is averaging a triple double with 31 points, 13.5 rebounds and 10.1 assists. He is also averaging one steal per game, and two blocks in the series. The seven-year veteran scored 32 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out 12 assists and made a playoff-high three steals in a 125-100 series-clinching win over Phoenix in the Western Conference semifinals on Thursday. Jokic averaged 34.5 points, 13.2 rebounds and 10.3 assists in the second round.
Point guard Jamal Murray was red hot in the series opener, scoring 31 points while grabbing five rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block. In Game 6 against the Suns, the fifth-year veteran scored 26 points on 7 of 16 shooting. Murray also grabbed four rebounds, dished out four assists and had a playoff-high four steals in 35 minutes of action. In 12 playoff games, Murray is averaging 26.3 points, 6.3 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 38.3 minutes. See which team to pick here.
Why the Lakers can cover
Small forward LeBron James registered a double-double in Game 1, narrowly missing a triple-double, with 26 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. In Friday’s Game 6 close-out 122-101 win over Golden State in the Western semifinals, he scored 30 points, while adding nine rebounds and nine assists. In 13 postseason games, James is averaging 23.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.2 blocks. In three regular-season games against the Nuggets in 2022-2023, James averaged 25 points, 7.3 rebounds and seven assists.
Power forward Anthony Davis is coming off a monster game on Tuesday, scoring 40 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to go with three assists, three steals and two blocks. Davis has 10 double-doubles this postseason. He scored 17 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in Friday’s win over Golden State. In 13 playoff starts, he is averaging 22.6 points, 13.8 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals. 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, all from the expert who has returned over $1,545 to $100 players over his last 94 Denver Nuggets picks, and find out.