Thursday night’s slate of NBA games features a matchup of two of the best in the West as the Denver Nuggets (12-8) will take on the Los Angeles Lakers (16-6). The Lakers will host this one from the Staples Center, with tipoff scheduled for 10:00 pm ET.
After an inconsistent start to the season, the Nuggets have hit their stride as of late, winning six of their last seven. On Sunday, they beat a tough Utah Jazz team at home 128-117. In the victory, Nikola Jokic led the way with 47 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists. Currently, fourth in the Western Conference, they will look to close the gap on the third-place Lakers.
Speaking of the Lakers, they come into this one on a modest two-game winning streak. On Monday, they beat the Atlanta Hawks on the road 107-99. As usual, Anthony Davis (25 points) and LeBron James (21 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists) led the way for LA. The Lakers will try to brush off some homecourt woes, as they are just 4-4 at the Staples Center (as opposed to 12-2 on the road).
Los Angeles is the favorite playing at home. They are currently -235 to win while the Nuggets’ moneyline sits at +194. The spread features the Nuggets +5.5 while the over/under for total points is 219.5.
By The Numbers
Offensively, Denver has been the stronger of the two teams thus far this season. They currently rank 4th in the NBA in scoring, averaging 116.6 points per game. The Lakers come in 16th averaging 111.8 points per game (although they have averaged just 98.3 over their last three games).
Defensively, it is all Los Angeles. The Lakers currently rank atop the league in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 104 points per game. Denver falls to 17th, allowing an average of 111.7.
Denver Trying To Ride Early MVP Candidate Jokic To Another Win
After an impressive showing in the NBA playoffs last season, many around the league knew that the Nuggets would be a team to contend with this season. With Nikola Jokic elevating his game to an MVP level, they are creeping into the conversation of one of the best in the West.
Jokic’s fantastic start to the season was recognized this week as he was named the Western Conference Player of the Month in January. In all, he is averaging 26.8 points on 57.4% shooting. He is also chipping in 11.8 rebounds, 8.6 assists, and 1.8 steals per game.
He doesn’t have to do it alone, though. Jamal Murray continues to impress this season, averaging 18.9 points, 4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per game.
Other contributors for the Nuggets include Michael Porter Jr. (16.6 points, 6.5 rebounds), Will Barton (11.1 points, 4 rebounds, 3.1 assists), JaMychal Green (10.8 points, 6.6 rebounds), and Monte Morris (10.8 points, 3.4 assists).
Defending Champs Look To Make Statement In The West
As well as Denver has played, the Lakers are still the reigning champions, and with LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way, they are still the team to beat in the West.
For James, when he isn’t worried about “courtside Karen’s,” he is still one of the most dominant players in the game. On the season, he is averaging 25 points on 49% shooting. He is also averaging 7.7 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.
Not to be outdone, Anthony Davis has shown similar dominance. He is averaging 22.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists.
Other contributors for the Lakers include Dennis Schroder (13.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists), Montrezl Harrell (13.2 points, 6.3 rebounds), and Kyle Kuzma (9.9 points, 5.7 rebounds).
Taking Nuggets And The Points
There is little doubt in mind that the Lakers are the superior team, but there is something to be said about momentum. The Nuggets have been playing great basketball and have not been deterred on the road. They are 7-3 as the away team versus the Lakers’ 4-4 at home.
Again, it wouldn’t shock me if the Lakers win, but the Nuggets are undoubtedly capable of pulling out a win. If nothing else, I think it will be close. For my money, I am taking Denver +5.5.