Nuggets at Lakers – NBA Pick for March 13th
Despite a record of 37-30 and the fact that they’ve gone 6-4 over their last 10 games, the Denver Nuggets would miss the playoffs if the season ended today. Denver and the San Antonio Spurs have fallen into the No. 9 and 10 positions out west as the red-hot Clippers and Jazz have surged into the 2 last playoff spots.
Of course, this will change on a nightly basis. While the Nuggets are out as of now, they’re still only percentage points behind. Denver is tied in the loss column with San Antonio and Utah, and they have one more loss than the Clippers and Timberwolves.
Tonight, Denver will take on the Lakers for the second time in 3 games. The Nuggets disposed of L.A. 125-116 in Denver last week, and tonight the teams will do battle in Los Angeles. Following a few quiet games, Nikola Jokic finally awoke from his slumber. The Joker shot 8-14 last time against L.A., finishing with 21 points along with 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
The Lakers also got a huge performance out of their own center. Brook Lopez is really their best hope at containing Jokic, so he wound up playing 32 minutes, which was close to a season-high. He was feeling it that night, finishing with a team-high 29 points on tidy 12-18 shooting from the field.
The battle of big men may be the matchup to watch tonight, but it’ll also be fun to watch the point guards square off. Jamal Murray got the best of Lonzo Ball last time out, as he scored 22 points and got to the line at will. Murray knocked down 10 of his 11 free-throw attempts in that one.
While Ball struggled to contain Murray, he did have an impact on the game. The Lakers’ prized rookie contributed 15 points along with 8 rebounds, 8 assists in 4 steals in 38 productive minutes. The Lakers will still be without Brandon Ingram tonight, which means more distributing responsibility for Ball, Isaiah Thomas, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and even Julius Randle.
The Nuggets have some of the most drastic home/road splits in the league. That’s not really a surprise considering they have an advantage playing their home games at altitude, but Denver is just 11-20 on the season away from Pepsi Center. We know the Lakers aren’t making the playoffs this season, but they’ve gone a solid 17-15 in their own home building.
It’s strange for a team like the Lakers to fly under the radar, but that’s what’s happening. L.A. picked up an impressive win over LeBron James and the Cavaliers last time out, and they’ve now won 7 of their last 9 games overall.
I like the Lakers tonight. They’ll have revenge on their minds after losing in Denver last week, and they’re a team that clearly takes pride in mucking things up for playoff hopefuls. Denver needs to win every game at this stage of the season, but they’ve struggled with consistency since Paul Millsap returned from injury.
Los Angeles as a home dog makes for a solid bet in all formats tonight. You can also take the over on 231 points, as this figures to be yet another high-scoring shootout.
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