The Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets will kick off their highly anticipated Western Conference Finals series this Wednesday in Mile High City. Will the Lakers steal a win in Denver right from the get-go? Or, will the Nuggets snatch that early 1-0 series lead?
Catch this game live on Wednesday, May 17, at 8:30 AM, Manila time
Away: Los Angeles Lakers (0-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: D’Angelo Russell
- SG: Austin Reaves
- SF: LeBron James
- PF: Jarred Vanderbilt
- C: Anthony Davis
The Lakers must be on a high after dethroning the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the playoffs. LeBron James and company took six games to wrap up the series against Golden State, and they did with quality performance on both ends of the floor. So long as the Lakers are healthy, this is a team that will pose a big threat against any team. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Lakers so far in the playoffs is their defense.
Among all teams that made it to the postseason, the Lakers are No. 1 after two rounds with 106.5 points allowed per 100 possessions. The Memphis Grizzlies and the Warriors shot just a combined rate of 42.2 percent from the field and 33.4 percent from behind the arc. Nikola Jokic is going to be tough to neutralize for the Lakers, but Los Angeles can’t wish for a better big man to match up against the two-time league MVP than Anthony Davis, who’s been wildly inconsistent in the playoffs thus far but appears to have finally gotten it together of late. Davis has averaged 21.0 points on 58.1 FG%, 14.7 rebounds, and 1.7 steals in the last three Lakers games.
Home: Denver Nuggets (0-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Jamal Murray (questionable)
- SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
- SF: Michael Porter Jr.
- PF: Aaron Gordon
- C: Nikola Jokic
Denver has been playing every bit like the team to beat in the Western Conference this postseason. The Nuggets blew out the Minnesota Timberwolves in five games in the first round and then smothered the loaded Phoenix Suns squad in six games in the second round. With Jokic directing the offense, the Nuggets have looked unstoppable in this postseason. In fact, the Nuggets rank first among all playoff teams in offensive rating with 118.7 points per 100 possessions.
They are also second overall with a 69.1 TS%, which is not much of a surprise considering Jokic is pretty much getting whatever he wants, offensively. Jokic has put up an average of 30.7 points on 54.9 FG% and 47.5 3FG% through 11 games in this postseason. Davis will have more success than the other big guys the Timberwolves and the Suns put in front of Jokic, but the Serbian should still be able to find several prime scoring chances for himself and his teammates. Another key for the Nuggets is their rebounding. The Lakers are just eighth in the playoffs with a 50.2 REB%, while the Nuggets are tops with a 54.1 REB%.
Spread: The Lakers (+6.0) cover the spread.
Over/Under: The total (222.0) hits the Under.