LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers face Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets in an important 2020 NBA Playoffs matchup on Tuesday. The Nuggets, trailing 0-2 in the series, are in a virtual must-win scenario in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, while the Lakers will look to maintain complete control with another victory. Will Barton (knee) remains out for Denver, while the Lakers list James (groin) as probable and Dion Waiters (groin) as doubtful for Game 3.
Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET at AdventHealth Arena inside the Orlando bubble. William Hill lists Los Angeles as the 6.5-point favorite, unchanged from the opening line. The over-under for total points expected is 214. Before making any Nuggets vs. Lakers picks, be sure to see the NBA predictions from SportsLine's proven computer model.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and it's already returned over $5,000 in profit on its top-rated NBA picks this season. It entered the week on a blistering 61-33 run on top-rated NBA spread picks, returning almost $2,500 on those picks alone. It's also a sizzling 11-3 on top-rated picks since the NBA's restart in July. Anybody who has followed it has seen huge returns.
- Lakers vs. Nuggets spread: Lakers -6.5
- Lakers vs. Nuggets over-under: 214 points
- Lakers vs. Nuggets money line: Lakers -270, Nuggets +230
- LAL: The Lakers are 7-3 against the spread in the last 10 games
- DEN: The Nuggets are 7-3 against the spread in the last 10 games
Why the Lakers can cover
The Lakers are fueled by two of the best players in the NBA, with Davis knocking down the game-winning shot in Game 2. Davis is averaging 28.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game in the playoffs, with James adding 25.6 points, 10.0 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game. As a result, the Lakers have been the best team in the NBA Playoffs 2020, outscoring opponents by 8.8 points per 100 possessions, and Los Angeles ranks in the top three in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
The Lakers have a top-five assist rate (62.5 percent) and they are No. 2 in offensive rebounding and shooting efficiency in the playoffs. Los Angeles is also adept at generating free throws, ranking No. 3 in the playoffs in free-throw rate, and the Lakers cause havoc defensively to the tune of top-three marks in steals and blocks per game. Los Angeles also limits the opposition in key areas defensively, with the Lakers ranking No. 3 in fast-break points allowed and No. 3 in points allowed per game in the paint.
Why the Nuggets can cover
Though the Nuggets lost a heart-breaker in Game 2, Denver has been operating at an elite level recently. The Nuggets upended the Clippers with three straight wins and, along the way, the team's offense has been dynamic. Jokic is a bonafide star, averaging 25.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game in the playoffs, and Murray adds 26.6 points and 6.1 assists per game of his own.
Denver ranked as a top-five offense in the regular season and, in the playoffs, that is happening again, with the Nuggets scoring 112.3 points per 100 possessions. Mike Malone's team also ranks in the top four among playoff teams in shooting efficiency and offensive rebounding. Defensively, Denver is sometimes shaky, but the Nuggets are fourth in the playoffs in limiting points off turnovers, keeping opponents to only 14.8 points per game off giveaways. That will be key again in Game 3 against a Lakers team that can thrive in transition.
How to make Lakers vs. Nuggets picks
SportsLine's model is leaning over on the total, with Davis and Murray projected to exceed their season-long scoring averages. It also says one side of the spread has all the value. You can only get the pick at SportsLine.
So who wins Nuggets vs. Lakers? And which side of the spread has all the value? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Lakers vs. Nuggets spread to jump on, all from the advanced model that is up over $5,000 on its top-rated NBA picks this season, and find out.