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NBA odds: Nuggets vs. Lakers prediction, odds, pick, and more

The Los Angeles Lakers start a five-game home stand Thursday night against the Denver Nuggets. It’s time to continue our NBA odds series and make a Nuggets-Lakers prediction and pick.

The Lakers currently hold an overall record of 16-6, but they are only 11-11 against the spread. The Lakers are coming off a win against the Atlanta Hawks.

The Nuggets stand at 12-8 and are 10-10 against the spread.  Denver’s last game was an impressive win against the Utah Jazz.

Here’s how sportsbooks have set the opening Nuggets-Lakers odds.

NBA Odds: Nuggets vs. Lakers Odds

Los Angeles Lakers -5 (-110)

Denver Nuggets +5 (-110)

Over 216.5 Points (-112)

Under 216.5 Points (-108)

Why The Nuggets Could Cover The Spread

Michael Porter Jr., Nuggets

After a sluggish start to the season, the Nuggets have hit the gas pedal recently, going 11-4 in their last 15 games.

More importantly, Denver has covered the spread in four of their last five matchups. The Lakers, on the other hand, are only 1-4 ATS.

The Nuggets are led by an efficient offense spearheaded by MVP candidate Nikola Jokic.

The Serbian star has been on a tear recently, averaging 30.4 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 4,6 assists on 58% shooting from the field in his last five games.

Behind Jokic, the Nuggets average the third-most points in the league, compared to 15th for the Lakers. Denver ranks higher than the Lakers in both overall field-goal percentage and three-point percentage.

The Joker has a tough matchup on his hands with Anthony Davis on the floor. For the Nuggets to get the upset, they’ll need more than a Jokic masterpiece. Denver will turn to their role players to step up in Los Angeles, specifically Michael Porter Jr.

Porter Jr. has scored double digits in four out of the Nuggets’ last five games, and in the one game he failed to, Denver fell to the Spurs. Against a stacked Lakers defense, Denver needs offensive production from their wings and Porter Jr. should take a lead role.

The Nuggets’ path to victory lies in milking half-court sets to get the best offensive looks and grind the Lakers defense down.

Why The Lakers Could Cover The Spread

Lakers, Anthony Davis

The Lakers currently hold the fourth-best record in the league on the strength of their defense.

Los Angeles has allowed the least points in the league, the least three-pointers in the league, and they currently hold the NBA’s best defensive rating

This defensive prowess has been on full display over the purple and gold’s most recent stretch. In their last five games, a Lakers opponent has surpassed their scoring average only once.

Lately, getting points on the board has been a tougher task than keeping opponents off it for Los Angeles. This has been in part due to the struggles of Anthony Davis.

Through the Lakers’ last five games, Davis is averaging 23 points on 47% shooting, below his averages last season of 26 points and 51% from the field.

The good news for Lakers bettors is that not only did Davis have a bounce-back game against Atlanta (25 points on 10-14 FGM), he has lit up the Nuggets since he joined Los Angeles.

In the Western Conference Finals in 2020, Davis was the leading scorer in three out of the four Lakers wins, he averaged 31.2 points in the series, and he hit the biggest shot of his career by drilling a game-winning three in Game 2.

Look for Davis to continue his dominance over Denver and put up big numbers here against a Nuggets defense that has been mid-tier at best.

Final Nuggets-Lakers Prediction & Pick

While the Lakers have struggled to cover spreads against top-tier opponents (Celtics, Sixers, Clippers), I think Los Angeles’ defense gets the job done on Thursday night. The Lakers have been extremely tough to score on, and against a Denver offense that relies so heavily on Jokic, I’ll put my money on the Lakers containing him enough to pull out a win.

FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: LAL 112, DEN 103 (LAL -5)