The hottest team in the Western Conference is off to Los Angeles. The Nuggets and Lakers will meet on national TV on Monday night, a possible first-round matchup. The Lakers currently sit at 36-28, losers of three straight games in a three-way tie for the #5 seed. The issue is that they don’t own any tiebreakers.
Imagine a possible scenario where LA advanced in the play-in tournament and faces Utah in the opening round? A reward for finishing with the #2 seed is having to face LeBron James in round one. The playoffs will be incredible this year, no matter what teams finish where. But to see a top team have to deal with the Lakers so early would be wild. That’s just the nature of the 2020-21 season.
Denver has gone 9-1 since losing Jamal Murray for the season with an ACL injury, not even skipping a beat. They have won five in a row overall, now sliding into the #3 seed ahead of the Clippers. Guaranteed home-court advantage in round one in the altitude could be just what they need as an advantage. They will have a hard matchup no matter who they wind up going against, so they need to use games like this one against the Lakers as a tune-up.
The visiting Nuggets are favored, the spread set at DEN -2.5. The over/under is set at 219 points.
Nuggets Seek Sixth Win in a Row
Can anybody stop Denver right now? Do you want your own favorite team to get a crack at them? As hot as the flames on the stove being used for cooking breakfast right now, the Nuggets has won five in a row and nine of 10 overall since losing Jamal Murray to an ACL injury. That type of thing would devastate most teams, but the Nuggets have taken it all in stride.
They have Austin Rivers playing big minutes off the bench and making some positive contributions. Michael Porter Jr. has slid into the role of #2 scorer/playmaker and shined through it all. And Facu Campazzo has been more than good enough to maintain the starting role. We’ll see what the guard rotation looks like when Monte Morris returns.
They also have the likely MVP Nikola Jokic, making magic every night.
Lakers Seeking Critical Win
The good news for LA is that LeBron James and Anthony Davis are both healthy. They hadn’t shared the court together in months prior to Sunday night’s loss against the Raptors, who were without OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet. The bad news is that they have fallen to the #7 seed and that Dennis Schroder is likely out at least a week in the health-and-safety protocol.
The protocol is in place to keep everyone safe, which it has. But many players have been placed on it throughout the year, costing their team rhythm, chemistry building chances, and most importantly, wins.
LA has Andre Drummond to wreak some havoc in the middle. He’ll have his hands full with Jokic, as the team may need AD to start on the perimeter against Aaron Gordon. The Lakers need to start winning to avoid the play-in. Like now.
Another day, another dollar, and another Nuggets win. Jokic will go off to guide his team to their sixth victory in a row, staying ahead of the Clippers in the #3 slot.
FREE PLAY: DEN -2.5
OVER/UNDER: OVER 219
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