Lakers face Nuggets for first time since Western Conference Finals

Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) shoots a 3-point basket over Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic (15) at the end of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Lakers won 105-103. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers will be taking on their familiar foes as the Denver Nuggets come to Staples Center. As we all know, this will be a rematch of the Western Conference Finals, a series where the Lakers won in five games after the Nuggets hilariously beat the Clippers in the previous round. Although the Lakers got the best of the Clippers only a few months ago, this will be different as Nikola Jokic has really elevated his game this year. He’s nearly averaging a triple-double, on pace to average career-highs in points (26.8), rebounds (11.8), and assists (8.6) per game.

Here’s our recap of everything going on with tonight’s game.

Injury news

P.J. Dozier has been out for a few games now for the Nuggets and will continue to miss time, sitting out tonight against the Lakers. Their starter Gary Harris will also be out, after being taken out of the Nuggets’ most recent game against the Jazz on Sunday. He left with a left abductor strain after only nine minutes of playing time.

According to this ESPN preview, the only injuries of note for the Lakers are the continued absences of Kostas Antetokounmpo and Jared Dudley, although I’m sure LeBron James and Anthony Davis will be listed on the official injury report in some way. Aside from an unexpected resting day against an elite Western Conference opponent, expect both to start and play tonight.

Betting central

Lakers -5; Over/Under 219, Lakers ML -195 (Nuggets ML +160)

Now sure, I’m 0-2-1 on my only picks this year (made for that putrid 107-92 loss to the Detroit Pistons last week), but that just means I’m due! Our good friend Kyle is currently 11-8 this season on preview picks, so sorry, but you get my terrible picks. Feel free to bet against me!

Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets are pretty hot right now, winning six of their last seven games. In their most recent game on Sunday, they beat the Jazz 128-117. Jokic continued to build on his case for MVP, tying his own career-high 47 points as the Nuggets stopped the Jazz’ 11-game winning streak. Although the Lakers have been doing well lately too, I think that -5 spread is a little scary. Any spread near the middle between zero and 10 scares me, as these spreads can get lost in the final few baskets that may not even mean anything to the outcome of the game. Plus, I do think Jokic will give the Lakers trouble tonight in their first game against him without JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard, as those two players’ height seemed to really affect him last year. Because of that I’ll be going with Nuggets +5, and Jokic’s over on points at 23.5. I’m not picking it, but Jamal Murray’s over at 18.5 doesn’t seem terrible. He hasn’t had the best year coming off his insane playoffs, but he always seems to get up for the Lakers.

Other than that I’ll add a third pick with Montrezl Harrell over 13.5 points. He’s scored 19 and 16 in his past two games after Frank Vogel made note of getting him more involved in pick-and-rolls. I think his speed and energy will be too much for his probable defenders in Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap, and/or JaMychal Green.

Where to watch

The game will be televised on Spectrum SportsNet, but if you wanted to listen to bad announcers preceded by terrible analysis from Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, you can tune in on TNT as well. Tip-off will be at 7:00 p.m. PST.

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