The top-seeded Denver Nuggets have just eliminated the No. 4 Phoenix Suns in six games, and will advance to the Western Conference Finals. Looking for their first NBA title ever, the Nuggets will now prepare for a powerhouse clash against the No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers, who just bounced the defending champion Golden State Warriors. With the action commencing on Tuesday night, Denver enters this matchup with Los Angeles as the favorite to win the series at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Nuggets vs. Lakers predictions
Odds to win series: Nuggets -155, Lakers +130
Regular season record: Nuggets 53-29, Lakers 43-35
Head-to-head record: 2-2
Through four regular season meetings in 2022-23, the Lakers and Nuggets split the batch. Unsurprisingly, the home team was victorious in each game. Much more strange, every one of those contests were decided by double digits. Each side won a game by 11 points, which was tied for the closest margin of victory.
Worth mentioning, Anthony Davis and LeBron James played in all but the fourth meeting between Denver and LA this year. That was the most recent matchup of these sides, which came way back on January 9—quite a bit has changed for the Lakers since then.
Pick: Nuggets in 7 games
With both of these sides coming off respectable wins in the Western semis, it can be tough to gauge who is the hotter team at the moment. Denver has looked strong in just about every game this postseason, only losing two contests through two rounds. Still, the Lakers have looked equally as impressive as of late. Los Angeles has yet to lost a home game in the 2023 playoffs.
As cliche as it may sound, I see this upcoming WCF as one where the home teams wins each game in the series. That trend held true for the Nuggets and Lakers throughout their 2022-23 regular season meetings and has the potential to continue. All year long, Denver has been the best home team in basketball (34-7). The Lakers have been the best home team in the postseason (6-0).
I believe Los Angeles is currently built to defend its own court, but games in “The Mile High” could prove arduous—playing basketball at 5,280-feet elevation always takes some getting used to. Also, with Nikola Jokic now facing the Lakers, Davis will have his toughest two-way matchup yet. I like the Nuggets to advance to the Finals after a seven-games series with the Lakers.