Free Picks: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets

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

The Denver Nuggets have run their record up to 12-8 with their recent run of six wins in seven contests, including an impressive victory over the Utah Jazz—who had been on an 11-game win streak—in their most recent game on January 31st. Because Denver’s Monday night matchup against the Detroit Pistons was postponed, the Nuggets have had extra time to rest up for their big Thursday night matchup with the 16-6 Los Angeles Lakers.

Nuggets Continue Strong Play Against Lakers (Season Betting Record: 29-28)

The Lakers last played on February 1st in a too-close-for-comfort eight-point win over the Atlanta Hawks, which means that they’re at a rest disadvantage against Denver, a situation in which L.A. has gone 2-3 against the spread so far this season. They’re also 3-5 ATS as the home favourite this year as the league continues to see the home-court advantage have less and less of an effect without fans in the stands.

This will be the first time these teams meet since they danced in last season’s Western Conference Finals, a series which the Lakers won handily in five games on their way to an NBA title. But that was the playoffs, and this is the regular season, and we all know there is a big difference between postseason LeBron James and regular season LeBron James. Though he has played every single game during this campaign, it’s all too clear on nights when the King is apathetic about the result.

Considering the quality of the Nuggets, it seems doubtful that LeBron would put it in cruise control on Thursday night, but the Nuggets still have a great chance here. Denver’s depth has been one of its biggest strengths this season, with the reserves putting up the fifth-most points per game in the NBA.

Dealing with Nikola Jokic could also prove difficult for the Lakers this time around. The Joker has continued to improve and is in the midst of an MVP-caliber season, and the big man is coming up against a Lakers frontcourt defense that is allowing the fifth-most points in the paint (49.0). Jokic is fourth in the league at 14.8 points in the paint per game, and the Nuggets as a team are fifth in that category (49.9) as well.

Though we don’t love the Nuggets to win this game outright, we are loving an NBA point spread play for Denver at +5.5 points at -118 odds on 22Bet. Los Angeles has been winning more games than all but their crosstown rivals, but they haven’t been blowing teams out and covering spreads, going 1-4 ATS in their last five home games as well as their last five games overall.

Another caveat to be given greater consideration than ever during this COVID-affected season is the travelling situation for both teams. The Nuggets have played just one game (at home) in the last five days, and will be well-rested and well-prepared for their opponents on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Lakers have had just two days off since finishing up a grueling seven-game, 12-day road trip and they’ve gone 0-4 ATS in their last four home games following a road trip of seven or more days. The fourth quarter is where we’ll really see these effects, which will allow the Nuggets to keep the game close and make the Denver point spread one of the best bets for today.

Stats

  • Los Angeles is 3-5 ATS as a home favorite this season
  • Denver is 6-4 ATS as the away team this season
  • Denver is 7-2 ATS in their last nine games
  • Los Angeles is 0-4 ATS in their last four games following a 7+ day road trip

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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 BetPicks.ca 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. Follow Alex on Twitter

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