Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets 5/16/23 Free Pick, NBA Odds, NBA Predictions

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

Game Info: Tuesday, May 16, 2023 at 8:30 p.m. EST (Ball Arena)

Betting Odds: Nuggets (-6) / Over/Under (222)

Pick: Nuggets (-6)

As the week moves on, lets bring our attention to the 1st game of the series in the Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets.

The Lakers were able to close things out against the Golden State Warriors in style on their home floor in Game 6, winning by a score of 122-101. After dropping Game 5, there was uncertainty around the media suggesting that the Lakers were going to blow it and with just 1 more loss, would have to play a Game 7 on the road. But, that did not happen one bit. After heading into halftime leading by 10 points, they did not take their foot off the pedal, as they went on to outscore the Warriors by 11 points in the 2nd half. Even though he is only 2 years from reaching his 40th birthday, LeBron James is still as dominant as ever. In the closeout game, he scored 30 points on a stellar 10-14 from the field, and added in 9 assists and 9 rebounds to go with it. Heading into the WCF against the Nuggets, the Lakers will hope that he was able to get the proper rest in between series' to give it a go once again in what should be a tantalizing series. 

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Could this finally be Denver's year? After exiting the Playoffs miserably in the 2 years that Nikola Jokic won MVP, now he has the chance to right his wrongs by taking down James and the Lakers to advance to the NBA Finals. Looking at the way he has played in this year's Playoffs, something that is scary to think about is the fact that he seems to be getting better as the games go by. In the Western Conference Semifinals series against the Phoenix Suns, where they were able to knock them out of the Playoffs in 6 games as well, he averaged 34.5 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 10.3 assists. Even more impressive, he shot an absurd 59.4% from the field and 44.4% from the three-point line. As Kevin Durant mentioned in his postgame press conference, he is truly a unicorn in the league. Someone who you can not truly stop, but have to limit the damage by hopefully taking one part of his game away the best you can. In the biggest series of his career, can Jokic get over the hump and punch his team's ticket into the Finals? 

Betting trends to consider in this matchup:

- Denver is 30-16-1 ATS as the home team

- The Nuggets are 14-6-1 ATS when playing with a rest advantage

- Los Angeles is 8-13-1 ATS when playing with a rest disadvantage

Although I fully expect this series to go at least 6, if not 7 games, I am going to side with the Nuggets in Game 1. Game 1's tend to have a feeling out period to them, and on their home floor, I expect the Nuggets to have more success to take the 1st one from the Lakers. There is no need to over complicate this one... Jokic gets his own once again en route to a commanding double digit win for the Nuggets in Game 1 to begin the WCF in style. 

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