Lakers vs. Nuggets prediction and odds for Western Conference Finals Game 1

Dec 16, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) moves the ball ahead of Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) during the first half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 16, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) moves the ball ahead of Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) during the first half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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NBA playoff basketball returns on Tuesday night for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets.

It’s a rematch of the 2020 Western Conference Finals in the NBA’s Orlando, Fla. bubble, when the Lakers downed Denver in five games on their way to an NBA title.

Now, the roles are reversed with the Lakers coming in as the No. 7 seed and Denver is the No. 1 seed and slight favorites to win this series.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James have impressed in the playoffs, knocking off the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors in six games apiece, showcasing their depth from their trade deadline moves.

Davis and Nikola Jokic should have a great head-to-head matchup in this series, but who has the advantage in Game 1?

Let’s dive into the odds and my best bet for Tuesday’s series opener:

Lakers vs. Nuggets odds, spread and total

Lakers vs. Nuggets prediction and pick

If there’s one thing bettors need to know about this Nuggets team, it is that it is dominant at home.

Denver went 34-7 in the regular season at home, ranking No. 2 in the league in offensive rating and No. 6 in defensive rating. Ball Arena has been a safe space in the playoffs as well, with the Nuggets going 6-0 in their building.

The Lakers have been great at home in the playoffs as well, but winning in Denver is a much different animal.

The Nuggets have a key advantage shooting the ball (second in 3-point percentage compared to Los Angeles at 11th in the playoffs), which could make things tough on L.A.

The key is going to be slowing down Jokic, and Davis is really the only Laker that may be up to the task. Los Angeles is +9.1 points per 100 possessions when Davis is on the court and -7.8 points per 100 possessions when he is off this series.

If he can’t mirror the Jokic minutes, Los Angeles is going to have a tough time with a deep Denver team.

At home, I’ll back the Nuggets to win Game 1 and cover the spread.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.