Western Conference Finals Betting Preview
At the start of the season, one would have thought that the Western Conference Finals would be a battle between the two LA teams. But the Denver Nuggets had a different opinion on the matter. They became the first team in NBA history to win consecutive series in which they have been behind 3-1 wins. By doing so, they will face the Los Angeles Lakers who had a much easier task reaching the Western Finals. At the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, the Lakers have opened as a -550 favorite to win the series and advance to the NBA Finals.
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The Lakers have only suffered two losses in the postseason so far, but both of them had been on the opening game of each round. The Nuggets are coming into this series having played four games more than their opponents. If that will have its toll on their performance or keep them rolling, remains to be seen.
The Lakers faced the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. They were coming hot off a strong regular season push and a play-in game and they managed to win Game 1. Los Angeles managed to win four straight after that and eliminate them. Same thing happened in the conference semifinals against Houston. The Lakers dropped the opening game without a challenge (112-97), but they bounced back winning all four after that. The duo of Anthony Davis and LeBron James undoubtedly leads the Lakers team. Davis leads the team both in scoring with 27.6 ppg and in rebounding with 10.9. James adds 26.6 ppg, 10.3 rebounds and a team-high 8.8 assists per game.
The Nuggets faced the Utah Jazz in the quarterfinals. They won Game 1 but then fell apart, losing the next three. They bounced back, winning three straight themselves and eliminating their opponents in Game 7. Same thing surprisingly happened against the Clippers as well, even though LA was the heavy favorite. Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic have led their squad deep into the postseason. Murray averages 27.1 ppg, adding 5 rebounds and a team-high 6.4 assists per game. Jokic adds 25.4 ppg, 6 assists and a team-high 10.8 rebounds per game. They are both shooting with more than 50% from the field and more than 44% from behind the arc.
The Lakers have won three out of four times this season. In their only meeting in the Orlando bubble, they won by just three points. LA has the second-best offense and third-best defense in the playoffs. They also have the best field goal percentage and are second-best in rebounding. Their Achilles heel are the turnovers, where they rank second-worse among all 16 playoff teams. The series starts Friday and there is a matchup every second day. The Lakers post as the favorite both for this series and for the NBA title, while Nuggets have absolutely nothing to lose at this point. I would expect LA to win the series 4-2. For Game 1, the bookmakers give the Lakers a -7 handicap. Given the history both of the regular season and of the playoffs, I would be surprised if the Nuggets lost by a larger margin than that.
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