After a one-day hiatus, the NBA is back in action on Tuesday night. The Lakers and Nuggets will square off in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals at 9 p.m. ET. The Lakers have won the first two games of the series, so Denver will need a win tonight to avoid a dreaded 3-0 deficit. No team in NBA history has ever overcome a 3-0 series deficit, so this is essentially a must-win contest for the Nuggets.
Let’s break down some of my favorite bets on DraftKings Sportsbook for Tuesday’s NBA slate.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets:
The two outcomes in this series have been pretty drastically different. These two teams exploded for 240 points in Game 1, but that number dropped to just 208 in Game 2. Believe it or not, both of these contests were played at a very similar pace — they posted a mark of 97.9 in Game 1 and 97.4 in Game 2 — so the difference merely came down to both team’s ability to make shots.
So will today’s game look more like Game 1 or Game 2? I think the latter is the more likely scenario.
The Lakers shot the lights in out the first game of this series, particularly from 3-point range. They shot 42.3% from behind the arc, which is obviously an outlier. They ranked just 22nd in the league in 3-point shooting accuracy during the regular season, so it’s not surprising that they regressed in Game 2. The Lakers were coming off a much longer rest period than the Nuggets — who played in two-straight seven-game series — and they looked significantly fresher in Game 1.
Now that both teams are back to playing every other day, the shooting numbers should take a bit of a hit. Historically, the under has gone 393-366-10 against the spread when both teams have had just one day off during the playoffs. That’s not a huge edge, but it’s an edge nonetheless.
The sharps also appear to be interested in the under in this contest. The under has garnered just 30% of the bets on the total, but those bets have accounted for 65% of the money wagered.
Nikola Jokic Rebounds:
Jokic is coming off just six rebounds in each of his past two contests, which makes this the perfect time to buy low on him. Jokic isn’t exactly a rebounding monster, but this number is simply too low considering what he’s done so far this postseason. He had grabbed at least 11 rebounds in six straight games prior to his slump vs. the Lakers, and he’s averaged 10.2 rebounds per game overall.
Jokic has definitely struggled a bit with the size and physicality of the Lakers’ big men, but there’s no reason he can’t find success in this matchup.
Michael Porter Jr. Points:
Porter Jr. has a bright future in this league — particularly as a scorer — but this is simply not a very good matchup for him. The Lakers have been one of the best defensive teams all season, and that success has carried into the playoffs. They rank third in defensive efficiency during the postseason, allowing an average of just 106.3 points per 100 possessions.
This matchup has also made it difficult for MPJ to get off the bench. He logged just 20 minutes in his last contest, which was merely the seventh-highest mark on the team. He still managed to score 15 points in that game, but he shot 66.7% from the field and 50.0% from 3-point range. Those marks are clearly unsustainable, even for a gifted scorer like Porter. He’s due for some regression in today’s contest, so I’m willing to roll the dice on the under at better than even money.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and I may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.