The daily preview it to the rim with NBA tips as Western Conference rivals Denver Nuggets and LA Lakers wind down the regular season.
11:30 (AEST), Mon 11th Apr @ Ball Arena, Denver
History: Played 217: Lakers 135 V Nuggets 82
Last meeting: April 3, 2022: Nuggets 129 d Lakers 118 at Crypto.com Arena
Final Thoughts: LA Lakers are aiming to finish a miserable campaign with back-to-back wins, while Denver Nuggets are potentially vying to move up to the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
The Lakers faded out of playoffs contention after going on a 10-30 run from mid-January. But they snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 120-101 win over the Thunder at home on Saturday (AEST). With no LeBron James, Anthony Davis or Russell Westbrook, Stanley Johnson (21 pts) top-scored with 21 points for a team that had seven players in double-digits.
LeBron, AD, Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony will not feature in the Lakers’ final game.
The 48-33 Nuggets are sixth and need a win here plus a Jazz loss to the Trail Blazers to move up from sixth to fifth, which would see them face the Mavericks rather than the Warriors in the First Round. The Nuggets have struggled for consistency over the past month, winning just eight of their last 15 games. They are 2-2 in April, bookending Tuesday’s 19-point loss to the Spurs (which came despite 41 points and 17 rebounds from Nikola Jokic) with wins away to the Lakers (129-118) and at home against the Grizziles (122-109).
MVP favourite Jokic had 35 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals against in-form Memphis, while Aaron Gordon put up 22 points. But Gordon is questionable to line up against the Lakers and Jokic is listed as day-to-day. Jamal Murray will not return until the playoffs are underway and Michael Porter Jr is expected to miss the post-season.
The Lakers had won nine of their last 12 against the Nuggets heading into this season, but the Nuggets have won both encounters so far in this campaign. Jokic (17 pts, 12 reb, 13 ast) had a triple-double while Bones Hyland (27 pts) top-scored off the bench in a 133-96 blowout in Denver in January. With Jokic (38 pts, 18 reb, 6 ast) again dominant, the Nuggets won 129-118 in LA a week ago. Davis (28 pts, 9 reb, 8 ast) and Westbrook (27 pts, 10 reb, 7 ast) worked hard in a LeBron-less line-up.
The Nuggets are 23-17 at home (15-25 ATS) but have won just three of their last eight at Ball Arena. The Lakers are just 11-29 on the road this season (17-23 ATS), losing their last five straight away by 8-plus points.
Uncertainty over the Nuggets’ line-up and the absence of the Lakers’ stars makes this one a bit of a lottery. But with playoff seeds on the line I’ll back the hosts to get the job done in this one.
Best Bet: Handicap – Nuggets -7.5 @ $1.93