For the first time since 2009, the Denver Nuggets find themselves in the conference finals. And just like last time, they are going against a star-studded Los Angeles Lakers team. That season marked the only time that they advanced in the playoffs without Carmelo Anthony on the roster.
This year’s Nuggets have been the “darlings” of the bubble. They rallied from 3-1 down against the upstart Utah Jazz and then did the same against the heavily-favored LA Clippers. And miraculously, they are just four wins away from reaching the NBA Finals. The odds are not in their favor at all this time, but they have taught us that anything can happen.
The Lakers haven’t reached the NBA Finals since 2010, so it’s great to see them so close to getting back there. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way, they are trying to make Laker fans forget about the last six horrible years, where they have shuffled through head coaches, unable to find someone to lead them out of the muck until they got Frank Vogel.
The Lakers are favored by seven points in Game 1. The over/under is set at 211.
Denver Tries to Steal Game 1
The first game in this series won’t tell us too much about the series. The Lakers dropped the first game in each of the last two rounds, and Denver fell to the Clippers in the opener of that series. So while every game is essential, this may be the least important game of the series.
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have been playing incredible basketball this postseason, and will be looking to keep things going. All of their perimeter defenders have been crushing it, and they are all making their three-pointers. But to win tonight and in the series, it will come back to Jokic and Murray. Can they keep playing at an elite level?
If they can limit one of James or Davis, they have a chance.
Lakers Look for 1-0 Lead
James hasn’t played in the conference finals in two years, the longest such period since the early days of his NBA career. And now that he’s back in a place he hasn’t lost since before he first left Cleveland, it will be hard to see it happen. And with a sidekick like Davis by his side, they are a tough team to beat.
Vogel has stated that they will go back to their original lineups, featuring JaVale McGee at center and Dwight Howard playing on the second unit. Davis generally plays all 12 minutes in the first quarter, so he and Jokic will likely be covering each other for a good stretch.
Rajon Rondo is questionable with a back injury tonight, and they may struggle without him. He has been playing great ball since getting healthy.
Game 1 Goes to the Wire
The game will be a close one, where you should refrain from betting straight up.
Free Play: DEN +7
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