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Lakers vs Nuggets Game 1 Winner Predicted By ESPN

Lakers vs Nuggets Game 1 Winner Predicted By ESPN

The Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets will square off on Friday night in Game 1 of their Western Conference Finals match-up.

ESPN recently developed a computer model that allows them to project the outcome of looming games.

According to the Worldwide Leader in Sports, the Lakers have a 60.9 percent chance of emerging victorious from tonight’s outing.

Lakers v Nuggets
Lakers v Nuggets

This falls roughly in line with what odds makers seem to think about Game 1.

LA currently sits as a 7-point favorite in most sportsbooks, and a big reason why is because when the Lakers originally opened at -6.5, sharps pounced and forced an immediate market-wide adjustment.

The big money bettors all seem to agree with ESPN, believing that the Lakers will come out on top in Game 1.

Denver, meanwhile, is fine playing the role of the underdog.

Down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Nuggets mounted an incredible comeback just to earn their spot in the Western Conference Finals.

“We shouldn’t have been down 3-1 but to come back from 3-1 against the Clippers was a big achievement, so it’s just fun to change that narrative,” Jamal Murray said after the fact.

A big reason why Denver was able to come back against the Clippers was the team’s tenacious defense.

“I thought our defense the last three games was just incredible,” head coach Mike Malone said this week.

“We have a special group. We still have a lot of work to do, Western Conference finals. We know we’re playing a very talented and well-rested Laker team. But I do know this: our guys are up for that challenge.”

That lockdown Nuggets defense held Kawhi Leonard and Paul George scoreless in the fourth quarter of their Game 7 match-up.

Will they have similar success against LeBron James and Anthony Davis? That will be one of the determining factors in this series.

Davis has been on a tear this postseason. He is averaging 27.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per outing, all while shooting nearly 59 percent.

James, meanwhile, has been averaging 26.6 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game.

One of the other big questions in this series is going to be whether the Lakers can slow down Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and his partner in crime, Murray.

Jokic recorded 16 points, 22 rebounds and 13 assists in Denver’s Game 7 victory over the Clippers. Throughout the playoffs he has averaged 25.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, and six assists per game.

“He’s a tough guy to guard,” Davis admitted this week.

“For me, those are always fun matchups for me because it makes me play defense. Makes me compare where I am defensively against a great offensive player. But it’s always been fun for me playing against him. I get to do it for an entire series.”

Murray, meanwhile, is coming off a 40-point output in that Game 7 victory over the Clippers.

So far in the playoffs he is averaging 27.1 points and 6.4 assists per outing, while shooting 50 percent from the field.

The Lakers know they are going to face a very robust team in the Nuggets, and they are not taking them lightly.

“Very resilient, very confident, very driven, very well-coached team,” James said of Denver.

“It takes a lot of energy, effort, a lot of desperation to be able to come back from a 3-1 deficit. They did it twice. So the respect level is out of this world for what we have for this ballclub. That’s how we’re going into this series: understanding what they’re capable of, where they stand.”

Game 1 between the Lakers and Nuggets will tip off at 6:00 pm PT on TNT.

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Charles Kruger

Charles Kruger has been credentialed to cover two Super Bowls, four NBA Finals, and one World Series. A 20-year veteran in the sports world, he has sources spanning the NBA, MLB, NFL, UFC and NASCAR. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Calif., he is Game 7's go-to source for rumors surrounding the Lakers, Clippers and Dodgers.

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