Thursday night provides the latest installment of the simmering rivalry between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers. It’s been one-sided lately, with the defending champs winning the last six meetings.
As a result, the latest NBA odds have Denver penned as a road favorite here. The visitors are 4-1 in their last five games, including two home victories over the Trail Blazers, and Nikola Jokic is the clear MVP frontrunner after Joel Embiid’s knee injury.
However, the Lakers have won three in a row and quietly boast an 18-8 record at home this season. Though the hosts are still adrift of the Top 6 in the West, they made a strong finish to their latest road trip with wins over Boston, New York, and Charlotte.
Both teams stood pat at the trade deadline, so we’ve got a familiar cast of characters as I dig into my NBA picks for Nuggets vs. Lakers on February 8.
Nuggets vs Lakers odds
Nuggets vs Lakers predictions
It’s becoming popular to point to other contenders in the Western Conference, with the Clippers, Thunder, and Timberwolves all making some noise.
But the road to the championship surely still runs through Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. The Joker is putting up video game numbers once again this season and he’s off to a flier in February, including a 27-point, 22-rebound masterpiece against the Blazers on Friday.
In fact, his rebounding spree dates back over the past few weeks, and I’m focusing on that prop again tonight.
Jokic had two straight games with 16 boards to wrap up a dominant January, and the matchup against Anthony Davis brought out the best in him during last year’s Western Conference Finals. He averaged 14.5 rebounds in that four-game sweep, and the big Serbian also had 13 boards in the season-opener against the Los Angeles Lakers in October.
With the Lakers rock bottom in the NBA with just 8.3 offensive rebounds per game, the visitors shouldn’t have much trouble cleaning the glass defensively. At the other end of the floor, the Nuggets are tied for ninth with 11 offensive boards per night.
Denver hasn’t played since Sunday, so Jokic is in line for big minutes in this primetime spot. I see him producing a trademark monster stat line tonight.
My best bet: Nikola Jokic Over 12.5 rebounds (-110 at FanDuel)
Nuggets vs Lakers same-game parlay
Nikola Jokic Over 12.5 rebounds
Austin Reaves Over 15.5 points
The mood in Lakerland is trending up after turning around their road trip with some gritty wins, and there should be an extra buzz in the building tonight as the Kobe Bryant statue is set to be unveiled outside Crypto.com Arena.
While LeBron James was probably hoping to see L.A. pull off a deal or two before the trade deadline, I expect the focus to quickly shift to the task of ending the run of losses against the Nuggets. The Lakers have been solid at home all year, and I like this chance to get points with a team that’s got something to prove.
Some of my optimism stems from the way the hosts’ supporting cast is playing. Austin Reaves is one of those who’s raised his game, and he poured in 32 points in Boston with LeBron and Davis both sitting out.
I’m picking Reaves to have another efficient night from the field and hit the Over on this points prop. He’s scored 22 points or more in three of his last four games.
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Nuggets vs Lakers spread and Over/Under analysis
The Nuggets are 3.5-point favorites tonight but they’re not invincible, as we saw in their recent losses to the Thunder and Knicks. The visitors have only covered the spread in two of their last eight games.
Meanwhile, the Lakers are back home on an emotional night after a six-game road trip, and there should be a little less uneasiness in the locker room now that the trade deadline has passed. With Davis and D’Angelo Russell both in a groove, they could be catching the champions at the right time.
There’s no love lost between these teams in wake of both last year’s Western Conference Finals series and some public sparring between James and Michael Malone, and this feels like more of a statement game for L.A. than it is for Denver. After all, the clock is ticking for the hosts to avoid the play-in path.
The Over/Under line is set at 230.5 and the trends point to the Under, despite all the offensive firepower on show. That’s 8-2 in the Nuggets’ past 10 contests and it’s hit in three of the last four meetings.
Though the Lakers have hammered the Over lately (8-2 in their last 10 games), a larger sample size tells a different story. The Under is 32-18 in the hosts’ past 50 outings at Crypto.com Arena.
Covers community NBA picks
Nuggets vs Lakers betting trend to know
With totals pumped up to account for Jokic’s wizardry, the Under has been the way to go when betting on Denver games. It’s 53-31 in the Nuggets’ past 84 contests. Find more NBA betting trends for Nuggets vs. Lakers.
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Nuggets vs Lakers game info
|Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
|Thursday, February 8, 2024
|10:00 p.m. ET
Nuggets vs Lakers latest injuries
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