Free Picks: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets

Lakers vs Nuggets NBA week 20
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets, NBA, Staples Center

It seemed as though the Denver Nuggets’ season and their recently realistic title hopes crumpled on the floor of the Chase Center in San Francisco a few weeks ago when Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray went down with a nasty-looking injury that turned out to be a season-ending ACL tear. It did not, however, end his team’s season, as many may have thought when the event occurred.

Nuggets Look To Extend Lead Over Lakers At Staples On Monday (Season Betting Record: 91-98)

Instead of folding along with Murray’s ACL, the Nuggets have bounced back better than ever, winning nine of their 10 games since the untimely demise of the Blue Arrow’s 2021 campaign. When they lost Murray, it was thought that Will Barton and bench star Monte Morris would pick up most of the Canadian’s slack, but then the unthinkable happened: both of those guys got injured too.

First, Morris strained a hamstring, then a few games later, Will The Thrill suffered the same injury. Barton is now thought to be nearing a return, but there is no timetable for Morris’ return, which means they’ve been without arguably their best bench gun for some time now.

No problem though, the Nuggets have gone 7-1 since Morris went down, and they have yet to drop a game since Barton got hurt five games ago. While Barton is nearing a return, he is not expected to be available against the Lakers on Monday, who will also be without their top backcourt player.

Possibly one of the best offseason additions for any team in the association, point guard Dennis Schroder has been excellent for the Lakers this season, putting NBA All-Defensive Team type clamps on opponents while contributing well in the realms of scoring and playmaking. He held it down for quite a while when the team was without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and now that both superstars are back, Schroder has entered the league’s dreaded health and safety protocols.

It’s impossible to guess when the German will be back now, but his absence can pretty much be confirmed for Monday night, and it is definitely a big one, though maybe not as big as it might have been had Murray been available on the other side.

It’s worth considering the fact that the Lakers have now lost two straight games since LeBron James’ return, dropping their most recent game to the Toronto Raptors—who the King has not beaten in five tries since moving to L.A. after having previously gone 41-10 against them in his career—on Sunday night.

The King does not often lose three straight games, but he has also never missed as large a chunk of the season as he just did with that ankle injury that he’s still working back from. The Nuggets have been on an absolute roll in contrast and unless the Brow does his best Batman impression in locking up the Joker, the Lakers will struggle to avoid losing once again.

The absence of Schroder cannot be understated as LBJ will be forced into the primary, and essentially, sole playmaking role, the same one that he had last season before veteran Rajon Rondo emerged to shoulder the load and help propel them to a championship. Without Schroder, they don’t have that, and we’d imagine that Michael Porter Jr. on the other side will likely keep up his insane shooting campaign because, why not?

It’s tough to bet on LeBron losing in three straight, but we’re not even sure he or AD will play in the second leg of a back-to-back set. With that in mind, our NBA pick for this matchup will be based on safety and value, which is why we like the Nuggets to win this game straight up with their moneyline at lovely +118 NBA odds, making it our best bet for today.

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Denver Nuggets Moneyline


  • Denver is 19-11 SU as the away team this season
  • Denver is 9-1 SU since point guard Jamal Murray was injured
  • Los Angeles is 12-19 ATS at the Staples Center this season
  • Denver is 28-13 SU after a win this season

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Alex is an alumnus of Ryerson University's RTA Sport Media program, a contributing NHL, NBA, and MLB writer in the team. He has been writing on sports, betting, and fantasy contests for several years, including pitstops as an NFL Editor for theScore and as one of the lead NBA news writers for fantasy sports site FantasyPros. As a lifelong athlete, bettor, and sports fan, Alex is uniquely qualified to help you reach the sports betting success that you've always dreamed of and your wife never believed you could achieve.