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Lakers vs. Nuggets Prediction: WCF 2023 Rematch

Written by: Grant Mitchell
Published April 20, 2024
11 min read

The Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets will take the floor at Mile High on Saturday for a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals. 

The Lakers enter the matchup with a record of 24-10 over their last 34 games, a standard that would put them on pace for 58 wins. Their team is fully healthy and should be rested having been off since Tuesday.

The Nuggets won all eight of their recent meetings with the Lakers, including sweeps in both the regular season and WCF a year ago. They too enter the matchup on a 24-10 streak and get to start the series at home, where they went 33-8. 

Here, we will go over the betting odds and share our favorite pick for Game One of the Lakers vs. Nuggets first-round playoff series.

Lakers vs. Nuggets 2024 04 20 Prediction LeBron James Nikola Jokic

Lakers vs. Nuggets Betting Odds for Saturday, April 20

The Lakers are 40-44 (47.6 percent) against the spread and 14-11 (56 percent) ATS as a road underdog. They covered in five of their last 10 and went 0-3 ATS against Denver.

The Nuggets are 38-42-2 (47.5 percent) ATS and 20-19-1 (51.3 percent) ATS as a home favorite. They covered in four of their last five, three times as a double-digit favorite, though none of them against playoff opponents.

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Teams Spread Moneyline Total
Los Angeles Lakers +7.5 (-115) +240 Over 223.5 (-115)
Denver Broncos -7.5 (-105) -300 Under 223.5 (-105)

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Lakers vs. Nuggets Prediction

Los Angeles Lakers Preview

If there is a time for the Lakers to beat the Nuggets, that time is now.

The assumption is that the team that comes out of the West is going to have to beat Denver unless Denver itself reaches the NBA Finals for the second year running.

Not only are the Lakers playing tremendous basketball, but this is the most well-rested they’ll be in the entire playoffs. Anthony Davis and LeBron James are also fully healthy, which is a rarity at this stage in their careers. 

The purple and gold will also have 2-3 days of rest between matchups because of scheduling, whereas they’d only have one day of rest if they were to meet in the conference finals again. That also plays into LA’s hands because of their age.

The Lakers ranked fourth in offensive rating since the All-Star break. Despite struggling to shoot from range earlier in the year, they ranked third in three-point percentage (39.1) during that stretch.

LA’s defense is a concern, though they’ve proven in the past they can ratchet it up in the postseason. They ranked 23rd in points allowed per 100 possessions after the All-Star break, whereas Denver was fifth.

D’Angelo Russell has a huge role to fill in this series. He was virtually unplayable last year and only averaged 6.3 points in the WCF, but he averaged 20.4 points and 6.5 assists on 42.6 percent three-point shooting since New Year’s Day. 

Also pay attention to how the Lakers guard Nikola Jokic. They cross-matched Rui Hachimura with him last year and left Anthony Davis to roam in the dunker spot, but that assignment could fall to LeBron James if the team continues to struggle.

Denver Nuggets Preview

The Nuggets’ 4-0 win over LA last year was their only postseason sweep in franchise history. While they were clearly the better team, they were not dominant, as every game was hanging in the balance in the fourth quarter.

Luckily for the champs, they’re even better this time around. They score an extra point and allow 1.2 fewer points per 100 possessions despite Jamal Murray coming into and out of the lineup with various injuries.

The defensive improvements the Nuggets made cannot be overstated. An outgoing veteran bench corps was replaced by young, aggressive defenders such as Peyton Watson who will play pivotal roles in the series.

Jokic and Murray were both outstanding the last time they faced the Lakers. Although both are proven playoff performers, they’ll be hard-pressed to live up to the standard they created for themselves last year.

The Nuggets were eighth in three-point percentage allowed but also just 17th in points in the paint allowed despite playing at the fifth-slowest pact. That could be trouble against a Lakers team that loves to attack the lane and also has the best differential between free throws attempted and allowed.

Denver was awesome in close games, going 26-14 with a +24.5 net rating, the best in the league, in clutch scenarios. That said, the Lakers were ninth in rating (+10.3) and had the best winning percentage (72.7) in these scenarios.

The Nuggets’ historical dominance against this opponent means that Game One is nowhere close to a “must-win”—however, they have a +10.1 net rating at home compared to +0.9 on the road, so a win on Saturday would help set the tone for the series.

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Lakers vs. Nuggets Betting Pick

Last year showed that there wasn’t a ton of distance between the two teams. While the Nuggets are a better team this time around, the Lakers are healthy and fresh and should be a totally different unit if Russell can hit important shots.

The Lakers’ 19-21 road record was the worst of any top-eight seed in either conference. A win in either of the first two games is close to a necessity for them if they want to move on to face either the Minnesota Timberwolves or Phoenix Suns.

While there’s a great chance that Denver wins, the line does not reflect how close these teams actually are. Take the Lakers with the points in this one.

How to Watch Lakers vs. Nuggets

  • When: Saturday, April 20 at 6:30/8:30 p.m. MT/ET

  • Where: Ball Arena, Denver, CO

  • TV: ABC

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AUTHOR

Grant Mitchell

528 Articles

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.

In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.

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