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NBA Western Conference Final Betting: Nuggets v Lakers

The Nuggets put the NBA on notice after beating The Clippers in their thrlling series, next up is The Lakers in the Western Conference Final.

The Denver Nuggets put the entire NBA on notice when they beat the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 of their enthralling Western Conference Semi-finals showdown. Next up is the Los Angeles Lakers, a wholly different challenge for Denver as the Lakers were the best team in the West in the regular season and are the presumptive champions in waiting. LeBron James and his troops will be ready, willing and able to dismantle any team they face and despite the Nuggets having shown tremendous heart and skill to get past the more fancied Clippers, the Lakers are superior opponents.

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The Case for the Nuggets

The NBA bubble has produced some astounding basketball and shocking results, from the resumption of play to this stage of the playoffs there have been stunning wins for underrated teams. The Nuggets fall into the category of sides that have stepped up when the time called for it. They have broken records on their way this point, having dug themselves out of 3-1 series holes against the Utah Jazz and Clippers, making them the first team to come back from 3-1 down in the same playoffs. To come back and win four games on the trot on both of those occasions is remarkable.

They managed this with a shared desire and top-notch performances from their star players. This is a young team with an average age of 25.6 years old, compared to the Lakers who have an average age of 29. The two biggest stars on the roster are Nikola Jokic who is 25 and Jamal Murray who is 23. There isn’t a lot of experience between them, but they have been the backbone of this side for the last few seasons and they are the key to any Denver success. Murray has been on a scoring tear during the playoffs and his stats are astounding, he’s averaging 27.1 points per game, with a field goal percentage of 50.2%. His 3-point percentage is an eye-watering 49.1%, meaning he makes almost half of the shots he takes from long range. His assist numbers are decent too as he averages 6.4 assists per game. This is only his third season as a professional in the NBA and Murray is putting in superb numbers, he can drop serious points on a team. He scored 40 points in Game 7 against the Clippers, he had a stretch of 50, 42 and 50 against the Jazz in the previous round. He is in red-hot form.

Jokic is the other axis in this team and he has been equally impressive. The seven-foot Serbian is averaging 25.4 points per game, 10.8 rebounds a game and 6 assists per game. He is outstanding from the field with a field goal percentage of 51.5% during these playoffs. He too will be critical to Denver as they chase an unlikely spot in the NBA Finals. The rest of the roster is good too with Gary Harris back from injury and making big 3-pointers, veteran power forward Paul Millsap has also been a huge player for the team with his timely 3-point shooting and defensive presence and forward/centre Jerami Grant has been very useful on both ends of the court with his scoring and shooting an asset alongside his defensive work.

There are loads of role players who can provide some impetus on both defence and offence, but the one player Denver will hope to get some X-Factor from is lanky small forward Michael Porter Jr. MJP as he is known, was expected to be one of the best young talents in the NBA, a serious back injury that required surgery while in college saw him fall down the draft order and the Nuggets picked him up as the 14th pick in the draft last season. They were able to let him heal for the entire 2018-19 campaign and he is a whole new player this term. They’ve blooded him very sparingly and he has repaid that faith with some excellent shooting performances during the playoffs. He could be the secret weapon that takes them to the next level.

The Case for The Lakers

Having written about the Lakers at length in one of the previous previews it seems like a re-tread of the facts. However, it needs to be said that when a team has LeBron James on their roster, they are expecting to deliver big-time come the postseason. King James hasn’t disappointed so far during these playoffs and he was a massive part of the Lakers’ success when they dispatched the Houston Rockets in their Conference semi. LeBron has delivered when needed and he averages 26.6 points per game, 10.3 rebounds per game and 8.8 assists per game. That is almost a triple-double average at the age of 35, that is remarkable stuff.

Anthony Davis has been his foil all season long and Davis is also showing up with 27.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Those two are central to everything good that happens for the Lakers. The supporting cast has been effective and efficient, giving LA one of the most miserly defences in the playoffs. They only allow 105.2 points per game to their opposition. In comparison, Denver allows an average of 108.3 points per game to their opponents. The purple and gold aren’t only good defensively they are superb on offence and during the playoffs, they are averaging 114.1 points per contest. So, they give their opponents very little to work with on either side of the court.

LeBron’s experience and leadership skills will be what get this side over the line in this series against Denver and is what makes them overwhelming favourites to win the NBA championship. Their list of players who they can call on to make a difference if either James or Davis have a poor run of form is quite lengthy with Kyle Kuzma the next in line to deliver point scoring, though his form has been patchy. Veteran point guard Rajon Rondo has worked his way back from injury into serious form and he is someone that the Lakers can lean on.

They have shooters in Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Markieff Morris and even J.R. Smith who they haven’t called on yet. Defenders in Dwight Howard, JaVale McGee are also options. Alex Caruso has been one of the most talked about players in the team and the guard, who was undrafted and worked his way up from the developmental G-League is proving to be one of the standout role players on this roster. Coach Frank Vogel has numerous players to choose from to make a difference. This Lakers team is stacked with talent and has two of the best players in the NBA on their side. It’s hard to look past them.

Prediction Time

On paper, this looks like a no-brainer. It is the Lakers’ series to take and the Nuggets will probably only be there to make up the numbers. It is precisely in this type of situation that Denver has flourished this season. Every time they were counted out, they found another gear to rise to. They knuckled down and worked hard to win. This will likely be too tough an ask for the Nuggets, but they will go down swinging as they have nothing to lose. In sport they say, never say never, in basketball they say, don’t bet against LeBron James.

Prediction: Lakers to win in 6 games.

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