If you happen to weren’t already entertained by what’s been an exhilarating NBA playoff thus far, Sport 1 of this Western Convention Finals matchup between the Nuggets and Lakers delivered all you may ask for from a collection opener.

Denver finally escaped with a 132-126 dwelling win to take a 1-0 collection lead, and oddsmakers anticipate a virtually similar effort from the hosts on Thursday – although early cash has are available in on Los Angeles to remain inside the quantity as soon as once more after a near-comeback on Tuesday.

Right here’s how we’re betting Thursday’s contest, which suggestions off at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Nuggets vs. Lakers odds

(by way of BetMGM)

  • Nuggets -5.5 (-110), moneyline -210
  • Lakers +5.5 (-110), moneyline +170
  • O/U 225.5 (over -115)

Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers
Getty Pictures

Nuggets vs. Lakers prediction and evaluation

(8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN)

The Nuggets and Lakers delivered probably the greatest video games of the complete postseason in Sport 1, which noticed Denver construct a 21-point lead that Los Angeles lower to a few within the remaining minute earlier than finally falling brief.

The result’s the quintessential take a look at case in playoff momentum: the Lakers got here alive late within the second half however couldn’t dig themselves out of the opening that the Nuggets constructed with a dominant first half.

And your perspective on which of these two carries extra weight probably shapes what you anticipate when these groups meet once more on Thursday.

The primary half of Tuesday’s contest went about as anticipated: Nikola Jokic practically had a triple-double by halftime – he ultimately completed with 34 factors, 21 rebounds, and 14 assists – and Denver’s offense ran roughshod at dwelling behind its two-time MVP.

Then Lakers coach Darvin Ham made an important adjustment within the second half, placing Rui Hachimura on Jokic and permitting Anthony Davis to roam defensively.

The Lakers used Rui Hachimura as their adjustment in Game 1 against the Nuggets
The Lakers used Rui Hachimura as their adjustment in Sport 1 towards the Nuggets
Los Angeles Instances by way of Getty Imag

It labored to near-perfection: Jokic went 0-for-2 within the fourth quarter, and the added measurement helped L.A. win the rebounding battle within the second half (17-11) after getting slaughtered on the boards within the first half (36-13).

Whereas Hachimura (17 factors) deserves credit score for his two-way effort in that second-half comeback, the true key was releasing up Davis to patrol the paint and restrict the power expended banging down low with Jokic.

As we noticed within the Warriors collection, permitting Davis that degree of freedom was usually the important thing to unlocking his full potential on each ends – and, thus, securing a Lakers victory.

Los Angeles didn’t fairly rating the win on Tuesday, nevertheless it was of no fault to Davis, who dropped 40 factors and 10 rebounds with three steals and two blocks on a stellar 14-of-23 capturing.

His dominance down low additionally sprung the likes of Austin Reaves, who scored 11 of his 23 factors within the fourth quarter.

In the end, the Nuggets’ gaudy halftime lead proved to be sufficient of a cushion to resist that livid second-half rally, however there stay actual issues about the way in which their offense halted down the stretch.

Conversely, the Lakers’ bench shot an unimaginable 58.8% from the ground and 60% from deep in a hostile street atmosphere, which bodes properly for this offense’s potential to face tall in Sport 2.

Each coaches ought to come armed with changes heading into the rematch: there are already experiences that Ham will go for Hachimura within the beginning lineup on Thursday.

In distinction, Nuggets coach Michael Malone has downplayed that adjustment and can certainly have a counter able to empower Jokic and pressure Davis into much less enviable positioning.

Betting on the NBA?

Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets
NBAE by way of Getty Pictures

That mentioned, it’s laborious to not be impressed by the way in which the Lakers responded in Sport 1, and they need to be capable of discover success with an analogous strategy in Sport 2 – or belief that Ham could have a counterpunch prepared for Denver’s pending response.

Both manner, this must be a detailed contest as soon as once more, and I wouldn’t be shocked by an outright upset to even the collection.

Nuggets vs. Lakers choose