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2020 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Finals: Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers – Pick, Odds, & Prediction

The 2020 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Finals starts Friday, September 18, as the third-seeded Denver Nuggets take on the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. These two foes meet each other in the postseason for the first time since 2012 when the Lakers eliminated the Nuggets in int eh first round in seven games.   

Also, this is a rematch of the 2009 Western Conference Finals. That time, the Lakers needed six games to beat the Nuggets with Carmelo Anthony onwards. 

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The upcoming series brings plenty of excitement, no doubt, as the Nuggets showed us in the previous two rounds that they never give up. We have prepared all need-to-know betting tips and trends for the 2020 Western Conference Finals between the Nuggets and Lakers, so let’s take a closer look. 

Injuries/Suspensions

Denver is without Will Barton (knee), while the Lakers miss Dion Waiters (groin). Barton shouldn’t return to the court in 2020, but Waiters could be available at some point during the conference finals. 

The Line

Los Angeles opened as a massive -600 favorites to win the conference title on Bovada Sportsbook, while the Nuggets are listed as a +450 out-of-towner to reach the 2020 NBA Finals. The bookies expect the Lakers to have an easy job, setting the lowest odds on exactly five games in this series (+200).   

What’s at Stake?

The Lakers are searching for their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010 when they beat the Celtics to win the championship. On the other side, the Nuggets hope to make it to the championship series for the first time in franchise history. 

The Spot

Denver was down 3-1 in each of its previous two series against the Jazz and Clippers. The Nuggets became the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit twice in the postseason. That’s a massive boost for their confidence, but the Nuggets could struggle with fatigue, too. 

The Lakers needed five games to eliminate their rivals in each of the previous two rounds. Interestingly, they lost the opener on both occasions. However, the Lakers looked sharp and had no problems to beat the Trail Blazers and Rockets. 

The Matchup

The Nuggets lean on a dynamic duo Nikola Jokic – Jamal Murray and these two guys will have to continue with a strong performance if they want to pull off a huge upset in the conference finals. 

Jokic taught the Clippers some basketball in Game 7, posting a monster triple-double of 16 points, 22 rebounds, and 13 assists, while Murray added 40 points on 15-for-26 shooting from the field. 

The Nuggets managed to overcome a double-digit deficit in each of their previous three outings, but they cannot afford a similar situation against LeBron James and the Lakers. LeBron is a true floor general for this LA team that plays smart, and the Lakers will know how to take advantage of any chance they get. 

Anthony Davis will be a key guy for the Lakers, as he has to play terrific defense on Jokic, while The Brow should be unstoppable on the offensive end. Jokic is arguably one of the worst defenders at five, but the Nuggets play good team defense and will double team Davis a lot. 

The Nuggets will look to take advantage of the Lakers’ second unit, but I think both teams have enough role players who can step up and put on a solid performance. Denver will certainly try to slow down the tempo, as the Nuggets average only 93.0 possessions per 48 minutes, while the Lakers tally 99.2 possessions per 48 minutes. 

The Lakers allow just 105.2 points per game this postseason, limiting their rivals to 43.2% shooting from the field. The Nuggets surrender 108.3 points per contest on 46.8% shooting from the field. 

LeBron and his teammates execute well offensively, scoring 114.1 points per game on an excellent 49.6% shooting from the field. Denver averages 106.8 points per game while making 46.5% of its field goals. 

The Bets

Although I admire Nikola Jokic, he will have a mountain to climb against the Lakers’ defense. Anthony Davis is a tremendous two-way player, while the Lakers also count on Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee. 

The Nuggets might pull off a couple of upsets here, but I think the Lakers are a better team, while they certainly have way more experience than the Nuggets. Anthony Davis will dominate the Nuggets on both sides of the floor, so the Lakers shouldn’t have too many problems to reach the 2020 NBA Finals. 

The odds are not tempting at all, so I would take the Lakers to win in five games at +225 odds. 

The Lakers beat the Nuggets in the bubble 124-121 and are 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS against Denver this season. The over is 13-5-2 in the previous 20 matchups between these two teams, but I don’t expect to see a high-scoring series this time and will look to take the under on a few occasions. 

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