Some may think the third-seeded Los Angeles Lakers blew an excellent opportunity to close out the sixth-seeded Denver Nuggets in the NBA’s Western Conference playoffs in Game 5 at home on Tuesday. While that might be true, the Nuggets would still need to beat the Lakers three straight games in order to advance to the conference semifinals, something that seems highly unlikely considering recent series history between these two teams.
Denver has not even beaten Los Angeles twice in a row in the past 10 meetings, going 3-7 straight-up and 6-4 against the spread during that stretch. The Nuggets are coming off a hard-fought 102-99 win that pulled them within 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, which they hope to send back to LA for a Game 7 on Saturday. The Lakers did not play well as a team in Game 5 but know how to win in Denver and will be relying on more than just star Kobe Bryant to get the job done.
Bryant nearly brought LA back with four 3-pointers in the last five minutes and finished with a game-high 43 points after center Andrew Bynum had said closeout games can sometimes be “easy” even though he has very little playoff experience. Game 5 was not easy for either team, as Denver answered all of the big shots by the Lakers down the stretch to avoid elimination.
However, the Nuggets will have a difficult time repeating that feat even though they are at home. Winning Game 5 was a struggle after they had built a double-digit lead, and LA can be expected to come out and compete from the start like in Game 4 at Denver. The Lakers were able to wear down the Nuggets in the second half of that game after hanging around in the first half en route to a 92-88 win, and they are 4-0 ATS the last four times they have suffered a SU loss.
The key here will be the play of LA’s big men, especially Bynum. They were embarrassed by JaVale McGee, who scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in Denver’s Game 5 victory. McGee has been praised by many so-called basketball experts as having unlimited potential, but he has not put together two consecutive solid performances in this series. His only other notable effort came in Game 3 with 16 points and 15 rebounds in a 99-84 win. If McGee does not have another big game in Game 6, the Lakers will be heading home to prepare for their next opponent. Don’t bet on McGee.
Free NBA Pick: Los Angeles Lakers +1.5
"Vegas" Matty Simo is the owner of Content Champs Consulting, offering clients over 20 years experience with winning content development & online marketing solutions and specializing in sportswriting. Matty began writing about sports gambling in 1996 with Computer Sports World, which later became DBC Sports and Vegas Insider. He was named Senior Editor of DBC Sports in 1997 and worked alongside legendary oddsmaker Michael “Roxy” Roxborough on a nationally syndicated column called Sports Book Insider. He later founded Content Champs to continue his passion for sports, betting and writing.