Greeting basketball fans. The new NBA season is now upon us. One of the games on Tuesday’s opening-night slate features the Los Angeles Lakers traveling to Ball Arena to take on the Denver Nuggets.

These two teams have met twice in the Western Conference finals in the past four years. Back in 2020, the Lakers defeated the Nuggets in five games en route to their first title since 2010. But when these teams met in last year’s playoffs, the Nuggets swept the Lakers on their way to winning the franchise’s first championship. 

Although the Nuggets swept the series, it is important to remember that three of those four contests were decided by six points or less. This includes a two-point margin in the series finale. 

During the offseason, the Lakers added a number of new faces to the mix. The list includes Cam Reddish, Taurean Prince, Christian Wood, and Gabe Vincent. With that in mind, the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping that added depth will propel them to another deep postseason run. 

Ironically, the Nuggets will receive their championship rings on opening night. That means the Lakers will be reminded one last time that they are facing off against the team that swept them on their way to hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy. 

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During their six-game preseason slate, the Lakers finished 2-4 after winning two of their first three contests. This includes a 123-100 victory over the Phoenix Suns – a game in which they outscored the Suns by a 35-15 margin. LeBron James paced Los Angeles’ scoring attack with 19 points (6-for-12 shooting) to go along with six rebounds and three assists. Anthony Davis contributed 15 points and six blocked shots. 

The Nuggets won three of their five preseason games. In their most recent outing, they defeated the LA Clippers 103-90. The teams were tied at 52 at the break. However, Denver held Los Angeles to just 18 and 19 points in the third and fourth quarters. Nikola Jokic appeared to already be in mid-season form. He finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists. His ability to put these kinds of numbers on a nightly basis has contributed to him being the league’s most valuable player twice in the past three seasons. 

Here is a look at which team has the edge in this matchup and why.


When: Tuesday, October 24, 2023 at 7:30 PM ET
Where: Ball Arena, Denver, CO

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets Betting Trends

The Picks

The Spread

The Nuggets opened as a consensus 5.5-point favorite (via Oddshark). At the time of this writing, the line has not moved. Here are a few trends that suggest why picking Denver to cover is a wise move. 

  • The Lakers are 2-5 ATS in their last seven matchups against teams in the Northwest Division.
  • Los Angeles is just 1-6 ATS in the last seven games they played in the month of October. 
  • The Lakers finished the 2022-23 season 22-25-1 ATS when they were the visiting team. 
  • Meanwhile, The Nuggets are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games overall. 
  • Denver is an impressive 14-4 ATS in their last 18 matchups against Pacific Division opponents. 
  • In 52 home games last season, the Nuggets were 31-20-1 against the spread. 
  • The Nuggets were the favorites in 62 games last season. Their record against the spread was 42-20. 

Prediction: Nuggets (-5)


The projected over/under total for this contest opened at 226.5 points. That line has moved to 228.5 (via DraftKings). Here is a look at why going with the OVER could be the smart play. 

  • The OVER total has prevailed in six of the Lakers’ last six games overall.
  • In its last five games played on a Tuesday, the OVER total is 4-1. 
  • In Denver’s last six games they’ve played in October, the OVER total cashed in four times. 

Prediction: OVER 228.5

Player Prop Bets

My first key player to watch in this matchup is none other than Nikola Jokic. He currently has +110 odds of scoring over 26.5 points and -135 odds of scoring less than 26.5 points. 

During last year’s playoff run, Jokic compiled averages of 30.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per contest. In the four-game set against the Lakers in the WCF, he averaged 27.8 points, 14.5 rebounds, and 11.8 assists. Given these numbers, I’m going with the over for Jokic. 

My second key player to watch is the guy who is entering his 21st NBA season – LeBron James. He currently has -110 odds of scoring 23.5 points and -115 odds of scoring less than 23.5 points.

In three regular-season outings against the Nuggets last season, James averaged 25 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 7.0 assists on 48.4 percent shooting from the floor. 

But when these teams clashed in the playoffs, James’ averages climbed to 27.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 10 assists per contest while converting 51.9 percent of his shot attempts. Based on these trends, I am going with the over for LeBron James as well.

James’s Picks Spread: Nuggets (-5)

Over/Under: OVER 228.5 points

PPB #1: Nikola Jokic Over 26.5 points

PPB #2: LeBron James Over 23.5 points

LeBron James and Nikola Jokic

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