The Nuggets have won four in a row and eight of their last 10, climbing the ladder to second in the Western Conference standings - three games back of the Lakers for the top spot. Denver rallied to a 127-120 road victory over the Spurs on Monday, erasing a 23-point deficit with under 19 minutes to go.
Los Angeles PG Rajon Rondo scored a season-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting as the Lakers blew past the Suns at home 125-100 Monday night. Los Angeles has now won four of its last five games both SU and ATS as it looks to continue that momentum heading into the All-Star break.
Denver has been one of the least profitable NBA bets in the first quarter this season, going 17-36-1 ATS including a 11-15-1 ATS return at home. The last time these teams met on December 22, the Lakers won the opening stanza 28-23 despite being without LeBron James, who missed his first game of the season. Look for a similar scoreline with James back in the lineup Wednesday.
PREDICTION: Lakers -1 First Quarter
Despite dealing with several injuries, Denver has won six of its last seven games including a pair of back-to-back sweeps. The Nuggets will likely have a short bench again Wednesday with Mason Plumlee (foot), Michael Porter Jr. (ankle) and Will Barton (knee) all sidelined. Denver will have nine days off to get healthy before playing next.
The Lakers are getting big contributions from their bench, including Rondo, who is 7 of 10 from the 3-point line in his last two games after going just 6 of 34 over his previous 15 appearances. With the entire rotation clicking, Los Angeles will start fast again in the Mile High City.
PREDICTION: Lakers -1.5 First Half
James has entered rarified air in his 17th NBA season. For the first time ever, the four-time MVP leads the NBA in assists. He is averaging 10.7 dimes per game - the most of his career and the only time he has ever averaged double-figures in that category. James has recorded at least nine assists in six straight games including 15 against the Rockets on February 6.
An efficient Lakers offense has helped James accomplish this feat, as has Anthony Davis. The big man is having another big year averaging 26.5 points on 51.9 percent shooting. The Lakers lead the NBA with a 48.8 field goal percentage this season. Expect James to have another strong performance distributing the basketball in his final game before the All-Star break.
PREDICTION: LeBron James Over 9.5 Assists
The Nuggets are used to playing games with relatively low totals as the oddsmakers have been conservative with setting their numbers. Denver has not had a total above 230 points all season with its highest Over/Under number being 229.5 back on January 24 against the high-scoring New Orleans Pelicans. The Nuggets won that game 113-106 as the final score stayed 10 points under the total.
Los Angeles has stayed beneath the total is two of its last three games and is dead even on the season with an Over/Under record of 26-26. The Over is 15-12 in the Lakers’ road games this season and 15-12 in Nuggets’ home games. It’s a good bet both teams will score some points as the starters could see extended minutes with the All-Star break looming.
PREDICTION: Over 220.5
Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap gutted through injuries to help spark the rally against the Spurs on Monday. Millsap scored 22 points in his second game back from a knee injury and Murray poured in 14 points in the fourth quarter as Denver racked up 74 second-half points in the comeback.
These teams split the first two meetings this season with each team winning on the road. The Nuggets blew out the Lakers 128-104 at STAPLES Center back on December 22, however, Los Angeles was without James for that matchup. The Lakers won a convincing 105-96 decision on December 3 at Pepsi Center.
Avery Bradley has been lighting it up from behind the arc and is 18 of 29 from 3-point range while averaging 15 points over his last five games. Bradley and the Lakers must solve a Denver defense ranked third in 3-point shooting (34.1 percent). Los Angeles is the only team in the NBA to has fewer losses on the road (five) than it does at home (seven). The Lakers head into the break with another victory away from home and cover this slim spread.
PREDICTION: Lakers -2.5
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