Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets Game 1 Picks

September 18, 9:00 PM EDT

Betting Odds

Point Spread: 
Lakers -7/Nuggets +7

Everyone expected the Lakers to reach the Western Conference finals, and here they are. Meanwhile, few expected the Nuggets to get this far, and they've faced six games worth of elimination this postseason. But Denver survived and will now provide LA's opposition in this best-of-seven conference finals affair that begins Friday night down in the Florida bubble. How are we playing this game with our free NBA playoffs pick?

Lakers -7/211 vs. Nuggets, 9 pm ET, TNT

NBA futures betting odds are listing Los Angeles at a heavy -550 to win this series, with Denver getting +400 as a live dog.

LA opened these NBA playoffs by dispatching of Portland in a first-round series four games to one. The Lakers lost the first game of that series, then won the next four. LA then did the same thing in its conference semifinals series against Houston, losing the first game, then taking the next four, to advance. The Lakers closed out the Rockets with a 119-96 victory last Saturday.

So LA is back in the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2010.

Denver, meanwhile, took a more challenging and more exciting road to get here. The Nuggets fell behind three games to one in their first-round series against Utah, then won the last three games to advance. Denver then fell down three games to one in their conference semifinals series against the Clippers, then won the last three again, overcoming double-digit deficits all three games, completing that comeback with a 104-89 Game 7 victory Tuesday.

So the Nuggets are back in the Western Conference finals for the first time since losing to the Lakers in six games back in 2009, seeking their first-ever conference championship.

The Lakers are playing on five full days rest, Denver, on two days off. But that might work to the Nuggets advantage.

The Lakers finished seven games ahead of the Nuggets in the final regular-season standings, 52-19 to 46-27. Los Angeles also took the season series with Denver three games to one, although the Nuggets managed a split of those four games ATS. And the only blowout among those four games was Denver's 128-104 victory back in December.

Also, the overs played 3-1 in Lakers-Nuggets games this season.

Denver is 8-6 SU, 9-4-1 ATS this playoff season, with the unders going 8-5-1.

Los Angeles is 8-2 SU, 7-3 ATS this postseason, with the unders going 7-3.

Lakers vs. Nuggets Prediction 9/18/20

Los Angeles has LeBron and the Brow, but Denver has Big Mo, coming off its rousing semifinals victory over the Clippers three days ago. And while the Lakers might own the edge in playoff experience, the Nuggets might be sharper, having played more recently. Also, these teams met four times during the regular season, playing three close games; LA's three wins came by nine points, by four in overtime, and by three. We expect another close one here. So we'll take Denver plus the points for our free NBA playoff pick for Friday.

Free Pick: 
Take Denver +7
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