The Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers are trending in opposite directions ahead of Monday's marquee bubble matchup.
Denver has won three out of four contests to stay in contention for the second seed in the West. Although the Lakers have clinched the No. 1 spot in the conference, they have reason to be discouraged after losing four of five.
Can L.A. get back on track, or will the Nuggets extend the Purple and Gold's slump? In abe Insights' betting preview, you'll find the best odds, analysis of how wagers are bound to trend and advanced stats in addition to other elements that'll help you bet your best on this contest.
Date: Monday, August 10
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Nuggets 35%; Lakers 67%
Spread: LAL -5
Moneyline: DEN +185; LAL -200
Guards Will Barton and Gary Harris have yet to play in Orlando and, per ESPN, will continue sitting out so they can recover for the playoffs. Floor general Jamal Murray is back, though, debuting in the bubble during Saturday's double-overtime win over Utah.
Already without Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo, the Lakers' backcourt rotation is getting dangerously thin at the minute. Shooting guards Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are hurting, with KCP declared out, per ESPN, and Green questionable.
16.5 vs. 12.3: L.A. allows the most fast break points per game, which doesn't bode well with someone like Murray back in the lineup for Denver. Although the Nuggets are shorthanded themselves, they've conceded the sixth-fewest points in transition.
109.7 vs. 105.5: These are the defensive ratings for both squads, or points allowed per 100 possessions. Denver is around the middle of the NBA pack (14th), whereas the Lakers' Anthony Davis-led defense are among the elite, ranking in the top three.
1.94 vs. 1.66: One stat where L.A. is more toward the league average (15th) is assist-to-turnover ratio, which is the latter figure here. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are highly efficient distributors, placing third in this category as a result.
Michael Porter Jr. took it upon himself to lift the Nuggets as injuries threatened to potentially derail their time in Orlando. Porter has averaged 29.3 points per game in the last four, three of which have been wins. His production shows the elite talent Denver got in the draft, and suggests a big future as long as he can stay healthy.
Provided Porter can continue producing at an elite level, he'll just make the Lakers' job on defense tougher — and he's also got the body and lateral quickness to hang with LeBron James when The King is on the attack.
Davis is already going to have his hands full down low with Nikola Jokic, who's easily the best passing big man in basketball, averaging seven assists a night. Between Davis and LeBron guarding Jokic and Porter respectively, likely for much of the contest, who does that leave on L.A. to mark Murray? Not many viable options, other than Alex Caruso.
The hope for the Lakers is that Green can at least go, although it may be wise to just hold him out to make sure he's healthy as possible for the postseason. As the rotations stand right now, Denver is a matchup nightmare for the Lake Show.
The Lakers' games hit the Under at the NBA's fourth-highest rate, according to TeamRankings.com. Denver is 12th here, so based on the season-long trends, expect the point total wagers to err on the Under side.
It's bizarre that L.A. could be potentially without four of its top guards yet still be favored as much as the lines say. While LeBron and the Lakers' popularity should drive action their way, look for a slightly larger amount bet on the Nuggets' moneyline. And if you're going to wager on Denver to win outright, you might as well take the generous spread, too.
Note: Odds current as of 1:40 p.m. ET on Monday, August 10.
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