Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets 5/18/23 Free Pick, NBA Odds, NBA Predictions

Los Angeles Lakers (43-39) at Denver Nuggets (53-29)

Game Info: Thursday, May 18, 2023 at 8:30 p.m. EST (Ball Arena)

Betting Odds: Nuggets (-5.5) / Over/Under (226.5)

Pick: Nuggets (-5.5)

Thursday night brings us to Ball Arena for a crucial Game 2 betwen the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets, with the Lakers trying to avoid heading home in a 0-2 series deficit. 

After a disappointing 1st half in Game 1, getting outscored 72-54, the Lakers found their rhythm in the 2nd frame, clawing their way all the back into the game. At one point, they cut the lead down to 3 points with the ball, but could never get over the hump in the 4th quarter. One to watch in Game 2 instead of Anthony Davis and LeBron James, is Austin Reaves. In the 24 year old's first Playoff experience, he has shined bright when the Lakers have needed him most. In Game 1, he put together a stellar 4th quarter performance on his way to a 23 point night. If the Lakers are able to limit Nikola Jokic in even the slightest way in Game 2, a 20+ point night from Reaves once again may be the deciding factor in what should be a grueling battle. Can the Lakers put together a complete 48-minute production to deliver a vital blow to a Nuggets squad that has not lost at home yet in the Postseason? 

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Denver continues to dominate in all facets of the game on their home floor. Now with a 7-0 record inside of Ball Arena, it seems as though they are as comfortbale as you can get in a tight Playoff atmosphere. Moving on, if you were thinking you were not going to here Jokic's name in this piece of writing, you are 100% not in the right area. Although I feel as though I am running out of words to describe his unique play style, the best quality I can say about him is that it never seems as though any type of defense can truly stop him. He is one of those players that you can only pray to restrict one part of his game. As many superstars have mentioned in postgame interviews and podcasts, whatever defense that you decide to throw at him, he always finds a way to get through it. This applies perfectly to his Game 1 stat line. He put in 34 points, 21 rebounds, and 14 assists on 12-17 shooting from the field. If he is able to duplicate that in Game 2, the Lakers will need an incredible offensive effort to come out with a win.

Betting trends to consider in this matchup:

- The Lakers are 9-4 ATS in Playoff games

- Los Angeles is 24-19 ATS when coming off of a loss

- The over has hit in 7 of 12 games that the Nuggets have played in in the Playoffs

Although I sided with the Nuggets in Game 1, I am going to jump ship and put my money on the Lakers in Game 2. Even though L.A. looked abysmal in the 1st half, when they were finally able to get in a groove in the later stages of the game, I love how they were able to execute on the offensive end. Give me the Lakers here to play better from the jump and be prepared for a blitz from the Nuggets as they try and get in front early to get the crowd raring from tipoff! 

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