NBA Betting Preview: LA Lakers-Denver Series Predictions
by Josh Nagel - 05/19/2009
2009 NBA Western Conference Finals
No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers (-280) vs. No. 2 Denver Nuggets (+240)
Records: Los Angeles (73-21, 49-45 ATS), Denver (62-30, 54-37-1)
Season series: Los Angeles won 3-1.
Overview: This series has become highly anticipated because of the play of both teams in their previous series. Denver dominated what had been an improving Dallas Mavericks team, while the Lakers inexplicably struggled against the short-handed Houston Rockets and let what should have been a one-sided series dangerously reach a seventh and final game.
It's easy to be seduced by the play of veteran Chauncey Billups, star Carmelo Anthony and the rest of the exciting Nuggets, who also blew past the New Orleans in their first-round matchup. Even so, although this Denver team is a far cry from the one that was swept by the Lakers in the first round last year, it's fair to say the Nuggets have benefited from a favorable draw in the playoffs this year. Neither New Orleans nor Dallas had enough firepower or heart to put up much resistance.
The Lakers have plenty of both. Though it was maddening to watch this team slog past Houston and fail to come prepared in the last two road games, this is a club that appears to play to the level of its competition at times and believes it can turn the switch at any time.
Los Angeles will be in trouble if it takes Denver for granted, but don't count on it. The Lakers are sure to be inspired by the many pundits who have jumped off their bandwagon and picked the Nuggets to win this series.
Kobe Bryant is still the most clutch player in the game today, and Phil Jackson didn't win nine rings by not knowing how to motivate his clubs.
Los Angeles has long been a tough matchup for the Nuggets, and the Lakers won the season series 3-1, which included two double-figure wins.
Value: Los Angeles. You have to figure the price on this series would have been much steeper had the Lakers not struggled with the Rockets and the Nuggets not cruise through their second-round series, but this series should be viewed as a separate and independent set of circumstances. The vote here is for Phil Jackson over George Karl, Kobe Bryant over Carmelo Anthony and the Lakers over the Nuggets.
The price on the Lakers is an outright bargain; don't be surprised if this series is nowhere near as close as many are predicting.
Prediction: Lakers in five games.