NBA Game 2 Preview: Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets

May 18, 2023

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Game: Los Angeles Lakers @ Denver Nuggets

Time: 8:30 p.m.

Odds: Lakers +5.5, Nuggets -5.5

Total: 226.5

The Denver Nuggets have been perfect at home in the postseason thus far. When they host the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals tonight, they look to gain a 2-0 series lead for the third consecutive time. Tuesday’s series opener saw the Nuggets execute their tried-and-true strategy to perfection, winning 132-126 thanks in large part to two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and a strong supporting cast.

The offensive performance—led by Jokic’s triple-double of 34 points, 21 rebounds, and 14 assists—allowed the Nuggets to score more points than they had in any of their previous 12 postseason games this season. Denver has won seven straight home playoff games and nine straight at home.

Denver led by as many as 18 points in the first two quarters and by 21 points in the third quarter when the Nuggets led 93-72. Jokic was just three assists short of a triple-double at the end of the first half. It was his third triple-double in the previous five games and second in a row.

At the end of the third quarter, with Anthony Davis of the Lakers in his face, Jokic made a disputed step-back three-pointer for a 106-92 lead, but he only gave Davis a shrug. Jokic had plenty of help too. Jamal Murray had 31 points, Michael Porter Jr. added 15 points and 10 rebounds, and former Laker Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 21 points.

The Lakers will also be optimistic going into Game 2. They switched to a bigger look late in the game with Rui Hachimura playing the entire fourth quarter after starting the game with a smaller group that consisted of effectively three guards: D’Angelo Russell, Dennis Schroder, and Austin Reaves.

Late in the game, the Lakers came within a possession twice, the second time at 129-126 thanks to a pair of LeBron James free throws with 1:12 left. James had 26 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists for the game. Davis led Los Angeles with 40 points and 10 rebounds after a sluggish start.

Although Denver finished the game with a 47-30 rebounding edge after dominating with 36 in the first half, the Lakers outrebounded the Nuggets 17-11 and shot 66.7 percent in the second half. Denver now leads the series 1-0, but both teams left with their sights set on the NBA Finals.

Denver has now won 10 of its last 13 games. They are 5-1 SU in the last six games against the Lakers at home. The Lakers have won 14 of their last 20 games. LA is 4-1-1 ATS in the last six games against Denver. Tuesday’s game ended as a push.

Game 1 went Over the total and that has been the trend in this series. Thirteen of the last 19 Lakers-Nuggets games have gone Over the total. The Over has cashed in five of the last seven Lakers games and in 10 of their last 12 on the road.

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