Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Preview and Pick – Game 2

Denver Nuggets (50-33), +7.5, o/u 229 vs. Los Angeles Lakers (58-25), -7.5, o/u 229, Staples Center, Los Angeles, California, 10:30 p.m. Eastern, Wednesday
By Oracle of

Before their playoff series started against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Denver Nuggets said that they would need to play good defense in order to upset the No. 1 seed.

Defense being the operative word.

If Game 1 of the series was any indication of how Denver would be playing defense the rest of the way, they’re in for a short, but long, sweep at the hands of Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.

L.A. took advantage of the leagues worst defense by scoring 128 points in their 128-114 win over the Nuggets. The Lakers outscored the No. 8 seed 39-22 in a pivotal third quarter.

The Lakers shot 50% from the floor, including 45% from downtown. Their ball movement was impeccable as well, recording 33 assists out of their 46 field goals.

Bryant didn’t have his best night from the floor (9-for-26), but his off-night was coincidentally overshadowed by maybe one of the best ever playoff debuts by his teammate Pau Gasol. Gasol was 14-of-20 from the floor in scoring 36 points. He also grabbed 16 rebounds, dished out eight assists and blocked three shots.

Lamar Odom also had 17 points and 14 rebounds, as L.A. received a total team effort in the win.

The Lakers easily covered the -5.5 spread and went over the 224.5 point over/under mark. Both of those lines have gone up for the second game, as Oddsmakers set the Lakers as -7.5-point favorites with an over/under total of 229 heading into Wednesday night’s Game 2 contest.

Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony did their best to keep Denver in Game 1. They made 22 combined field goals, but attempted 50. AI also had some troubles with the referees, as he got tossed in the final quarter after scoring 30 points and seven assists.

Denver’s success against the Lakers will hinge on Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby. The duo was woeful offensively in Game 1, scoring a combined total of nine points on 3-of-16 shooting.

Neither of them had any success guarding Gasol, either.

The Game 1 win was nothing out of the ordinary for Los Angeles, as they’ve won all four meetings – three of them at home – against the Nuggets this year. L.A. has averaged nearly 121 points in those four meetings, winning by an average margin of 13.3 points.

In fact, Denver has only won twice in 18 games at the Staples Center since its opening in the 1999-2000 season.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Denver switch to a zone in Game 2, which the Lakers are already anticipating. Gasol threw down seven dunks and scored on five easy layups alone. Add onto that the 16 baskets the rest of the Lakers scored from point blank range, Denver may build a house in the paint tonight.

For bettors, they should love the home team in this match up, as they’re 13-5 ATS in the last 18 meetings.

Besides that, Denver is just 1-8 ATS at the Staples Center and hasn’t covered in the last five overall games against the Lakers.

As far as the over/under is concerned, bettors know both teams can score. As much as the 242 points scored in the first game seems to be immanent yet again in Game 2, bettors may want to adjust their thinking, as the under is 7-3 in the last 10 games at the Staples Center between these two teams.

If Denver wants any chance at upsetting the Lakers, let alone take one game in this series, yes, they will have to play at least some defense.

Oracle’s Pick: It’s hard to go against the Lakers at home, as they cover very well against Denver at the Staples Center, but this line is inflated and offers great value on the other side. Take Denver plus the points and expect a much better showing out of them tonight!