The Denver Nuggets are looking to start the NBA playoffs on the right foot, playing against the weaker Los Angeles Lakers. Even with the Laker’s recent win over the New Orlean Pelicans, the returning champions are a different beast, especially with how Nikola Jokić has been playing.

Coming into the second match, the Nuggets will likely want to set the tone early and piggyback off of last game’s success. Towards that end, it wouldn’t be all too surprising to see Jokić and Jamal Murray hit the ground running, looking to start the second game well and get off with an early lead.

On the Lakers’ side of things, they’ll likely think the same thing – if they can get a good second game under their belt, it’ll set the stage for a much closer series.

With both rosters firing on all cylinders, it’ll be interesting to see how Jokić matches up with Anthony Davis and how the likes of Aaron Gordon and Murray deal with LeBron on the perimeter.

Odds via Tonybet

Nuggets vs LakersApril 22, 8:00 p.m EDT
Denver Nuggets odds-303
Los Angeles Lakers odds +235
Denver Nuggets spread -4.5 -145
Los Angeles Lakers spread +4.5 +141

Seeing as the Lakers barely scraped their way into the playoffs, it’s understandable that bookmakers would see them as clear underdogs – and we have to agree with them. Facing off against the returning NBA champions when you barely made it into the playoffs is a recipe for disaster, no matter which way you look at it.

While the Lakers may have an edge when it comes to overall experience, especially with LeBron James, the overall chemistry, talent, and grit of the Nuggets is on a whole other level. And that’s not even to mention the specific matchups.

If you key in on Jokić, as we expect the Lakers will, he’s going to drop dimes to cutting players, and if you give him an inch, he will burn you with his signature Sombor Shuffle.

Whether it’s the defensive side of the ball, the offensive side, or even simply in transition, it’s looking like it’ll be an uphill battle for the veteran Los Angeles Lakers.

Again, we have to side with the bookmakers on this one and give the edge to Denver not only in this game but in this NBA playoff series.

Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers Prediction

Coming into the NBA playoffs as the number two seed in the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets are far and away the favourites. With Nikola Jokić continuing to play at an all-time level and a great supporting cast, you really couldn’t ask for more out of this team. The team has been built for playoff success and to maximize Jokić’s strengths.

The Nuggets have solid shooters, great slashers, and a floor general that’s on par with the great Magic Johnson.

The Lakers, on the other hand, have been anything but consistent this year, dropping games to weak competition before pulling out mystery upsets. However, in the NBA playoffs, that’s simply not going to cut it, especially as the Nuggets will be going for the throat.

Even if somebody like King James has a showout game, dropping something like 40 points, it still might not be enough to put down the Nuggets. Jokić can drop 40-50 points on any given night on top of 15 rebounds and 10 assists, and that’s not even an exaggeration.

The Lakers simply don’t have the Nuggets beat anywhere on the court. On the inside, although AD is a fantastic player, he’s not on the same level as Jokić as of now, and the athletic playstyle of Gordon paired with Murray’s shooting and slashing should be too much for the Laker’s perimeter defence.

That is all to say, we have to side with the bookmakers on this one, we’ve got to give the Denver Nuggets an edge going into game one of this series. It’s rarely a smart choice to bet against the returning NBA champions, at least in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers Player Pick 

Nikola Jokić is a player almost built for the playoffs, as his playstyle lends itself to the postseason. He can pass, shoot, score down low, and again, play a floor general role better than almost anyone in the game today.

You can’t necessarily double-team the guy as he has a knack for splitting the defence and getting easy buckets – and even if you do trap him, he will go ahead and drop a dime to a cutting player to bail himself out.

He may seem like the most unenthusiastic player in the world while he’s on the floor, but don’t get it twisted, he’s a scoring machine. Deep threes, one of the best mid-range shots in the NBA, and a knack for getting to the basket that’s almost comical, Jokić scoring 30+ points isn’t a monumental night, it’s just another Monday.

While we don’t have a crystal ball, it really doesn’t seem like too far of a stretch to expect the Joker to have yet another 30+ point triple-double night against the Lakers. AD will definitely try his best to at least slow down the big Serb, but most who have tried have failed.

Disclaimer: Odds are accurate at the time of posting and subject to change. Please verify the latest odds on our platform before betting.

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