The Nuggets hold a record of 43-21 overall and 31-33 against the spread. Denver is coming off an impressive win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Lakers stand at 36-28 overall and 28-35-1 against the spread. Los Angeles is in the midst of a major skid at the moment, with losses in six of seven games.
Here’s how sportsbooks have set the Nuggets-Lakers odds.
NBA Odds: Nuggets-Lakers Odds
Denver Nuggets -5.5 (-110)
Los Angeles Lakers +5.5 (-110)
Over 213 Points (-110)
Under 213 Points (-110)
Why The Nuggets Could Cover The Spread
These two teams are trending in the complete opposite directions.
While the Lakers have plummeted in the standings, the Nuggets have risen all the way to the third seed in the West, even with star guard Jamal Murray out for the year.
Denver has fired off five straight wins, using a combination of excellent defense and scoring efficiency.
The Nuggets’ offense is getting plenty of praise right now, but their defense has also been strong. Denver is 12th in the NBA in defensive efficiency and eighth in the 10 games since Murray went down.
Monday, Denver can take advantage of a Lakers team that will be without LeBron James and Dennis Schroder. Without those two, the Lakers will be missing two of their best offensive players and will need a struggling Anthony Davis to step up in a big way.
On the offensive end, the Nuggets have a big man of their own who has been unguardable all year. Nikola Jokic has a dominant hold on the MVP lead and can make a huge statement with a quality game.
Jokic has been on fire, averaging 25.8 points, 11.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.4 steals and a block over the Nuggets’ five-game winning streak. He’s doing all of this while shooting just under 60% from the field and exactly 50% from 3.
L.A. can throw Davis at Jokic, but no one has been able to slow down the Nuggets star. I expect Jokic to record yet another big game here against the Nuggets’ Western Conference rival.
Why The Lakers Could Cover The Spread
In an odd twist, the Lakers are playing their worst basketball of the year in the midst of getting both their star players back on the floor. Anthony Davis and LeBron James recently returned, L.A. lost its last two games with LeBron and five of six with Davis back.
AD is playing at a level far below his potential. In six games, he’s shooting below 40% from the field, below 20% from 3, and only averaging 16.5 points.
A player of Davis’ caliber is far too good to consistently put up numbers like that. He’s due for a breakout, and that could finally happen against Denver.
Another concern for the Lakers against the Nuggets on Monday is their defense. While L.A. has been an elite defensive unit this season, Denver just got picked apart by the Toronto Raptors and now must face one of the very best offenses in the entire NBA.
Defense requires effort, and it seems like L.A. has been very nonchalant on that end of late. Now that serious problems loom in the shape of the play-in tournament, the Lakers will hopefully turn it up a notch to match the challenge from the Nuggets’ prolific offense.
Final Nuggets-Lakers Prediction & Pick
The Lakers should be extremely motivated to get a win, but the Nuggets are the hottest team in the league. Without LeBron on the floor, L.A. simply doesn’t have the firepower to keep up with Denver. Barring a miracle performance from Davis, it would be a shock to see the Lakers break the 110-point mark. The Nuggets should work the ball through Jokic all night, a strategy that will get enough points on the board to outpace the anemic Lakers offense.
FINAL PICK: DEN 114, LAL 105 (DEN -5.5)