Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers Game 1 Pick – NBA September 18

The NBA is set up with a solid day of action on Friday as the Western Conference Finals get underway. The Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers will meet up in Game 1 of their best of seven series. These two teams should meet in a great series as they battle it out for a spot in the NBA Finals. This game will tip off at around 9:00 PM Eastern time on TNT.

The Nuggets finished out the regular season with a record of 46-27, which put them in third place of the Western Conference. Denver met up with the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers in the first two rounds. In both series, the Nuggets erased 3-1 deficits to move on. Now Denver will look to push forward past the Lakers into the NBA Finals.

Los Angeles earned a record of 52-19 throughout the regular season, which had them in first place of the Western Conference. The Lakers faced the Portland Trail Blazers and the Houston Rockets in the first two rounds. Los Angeles eliminated both teams in five games to move on. Now the Lakers will look to continue their dominance against the Nuggets.

These two teams have had very strong runs to the Western Conference Finals. The question now lies whether the Nuggets have enough left in the tank as they try and knock off the Lakers. Denver has had to play in back to back Game 7’s, which could wipe out their energy. The Nuggets will look to come out strong though as they try and stay alive.

Previous Matchups

The Nuggets and the Lakers met up four times throughout the regular season. Denver hosted the first game. Jamal Murray dropped 22 points, while Paul Millsap dropped 21 points. LeBron James and Anthony Davis both put up 25 points though to lead Los Angeles. The Lakers finished with a 105-96 win on the road.

The second game of the season series was on December 22 in Los Angeles. Anthony Davis dropped 32 points and 11 rebounds, which was not enough. Paul Millsap scored 21 points, while Gary Harris dropped 19 points. The Nuggets got a nice spread of scoring to run away with a dominant 128-104 win on the road.

The third game of the season series was on February 12 in Denver. Jamal Murray finished with 32 points and 10 assists. Nikola Jokic scored 22 points and 11 rebounds, but it was not enough. Anthony Davis scored 33 points and 10 rebounds, while LeBron James scored 32 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists. The Lakers won 120-116 on the road.

The fourth and most recent game of the season series was on August 10 in Los Angeles. The Nuggets bench combined for 61 points, but it was not enough. LeBron James scored 29 points and 12 assists. Anthony Davis dropped 27 points, while Kyle Kuzma scored 25 points. Los Angeles slipped away with a 124-121 win.

Field Goal Percentage

The Nuggets have been solid when it comes to shooting this postseason. Denver has made around 46.5 percent of their shots from the field, which is second best of the remaining playoff teams. The Nuggets have also made 39.1 percent of their shots. Denver’s three point shooting is the best of the remaining playoff teams.

Los Angeles has been the top team when shooting from the field throughout this postseason. The Lakers have made 49.6 percent of their shots from the field. Los Angeles has not been great from deep throughout these playoffs. The Lakers have made 35.9 percent of their shots from behind the arc, which is eleventh among the original sixteen playoff teams.

The Lakers have been the better team from the field, but Denver has been strong when it comes to shooting the three ball in this postseason. Los Angeles will look to protect the perimeter well in this series, which they did a good job in the first two series. Look for the Nuggets to try and slow down the Lakers inside early to control the pace.

Top Performers

Jamal Murray has had a great playoff run, averaging 27 points and 6.5 assists per game throughout this postseason. Nikola Jokic has averaged 25.5 points and 11 rebounds per game. Michael Porter Jr. is averaging 11 points per game. Jerami Grant has helped round out the lineup, averaging 10 points per game.

Anthony Davis has had a really strong playoff run as well. Davis has averaged 27.5 points and 11 rebounds per game throughout this postseason. LeBron James is averaging 26.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 9 assists per game. Kyle Kuzma has averaged 11 points per game, while Rajon Rondo is averaging 10.5 points per game.

These two teams have seen their top two players dominate throughout the playoffs. James and Davis have been leaders, but since Rondo has returned, he has helped the lineup a lot. Murray and Jokic have been going back and forth dominating, but the Nuggets will need both in a big way. Denver will also need more players in their depth to step up if they want to upset the Lakers

Pick Overview

The Nuggets and the Lakers are set for a solid Game 1 on Friday night as both teams try and set the pace of this series. I expect both teams to come out quickly. I believe with the extra days off though; the Lakers can outlast Denver in this one. Los Angeles has been the better team in the regular season and the postseason, and I expect them to take Game 1 of this series.

BetOnline has Los Angeles listed as a -7 against the spread in this game. This gives a solid edge to the Lakers in this one, which I believe is a good line. Los Angeles is coming off a solid series, which I think will give them important rest against the Nuggets. Denver has not had a nice break after playing back to back seven game series, which I think will allow the Lakers to run away with it.

My Pick
Los Angeles Lakers -7
Andruw Burling / Author

Andruw Burling has been writing sports picks since 2017, covering mainly NHL and NBA content, but doing work in other sports as well. Andruw grew up in Las Vegas and has been around sports since a young age. He grew up a huge NHL and NBA fan and continues to use that knowledge in his content today.