2020 NBA Playoffs: Nuggets vs. Lakers Game 5 odds, pick and prediction
Some might say the Denver Nuggets have the Los Angeles Lakers right where they want them. Down 3-1 in the series, the Nuggets find themselves in a familiar position as they were also down by this total in the first round against the Jazz and in the second round against the Clippers.
While it is a familiar position for the group or scrappers, it certainly isn’t an ideal one. With a chance at the NBA Finals on the line, Denver must now put-together three straight wins against the overwhelming favorite Lakers.
Sun, September 27 2020, 1:05 AM
Howard was a difference maker in Game 4
In Game 5, the Lakers are again 6-point favorites. After easily dispatching the Nuggets in Game 1 for their only cover of the series, the underdog has covered three straight. The biggest difference for the Lakers in winning Game 4 was the impressive paint play by Dwight Howard. After struggling with rebounding in a Game 3 loss, Howard racked up 11 rebounds and 12 points to offer a compliment to Lakers stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Points in the first quarter count just as much as points in the fourth, and Howard going 5-6 from the floor with six offensive rebounds afforded the Lakers an opportunity to jump out to an early lead.
The Nuggets need more from Jokic
The Nuggets played catch-up the entire game, where in the fourth quarter Jamal Murray showed yet again how creative and dynamic he can be. His lay-up against James in the second quarter was as good as any you’ll ever see. His 32 points were not enough, however, as his normally highly productive counterpart, Nikola Jokic, tallied just 16 points and seven rebounds. Jokic was one of the few players for the Nuggets to still record a plus number for his time on the court (+2), and he will need to exert himself to create more output - especially in late-game if James re-assigns himself to guard Murray.
James is well-known for his offensive productivity throughout his entire career, but he’s equally talented on the defensive side of the court and reminded us all of that when he took over guarding Murray late in Game 4. Murray has been unguardable for everybody in the bubble, but James’ (questionable) block on Murray’s drive was a microcosm of the Lakers’ answer for keeping Murray from overtaking the game late.
Davis could be hampered in Game 5
Late in Game 4, Anthony Davis suffered a mild ankle injury. He continued playing and will surely play in Game 5, but there is a possibility he won’t be as explosive and has already demonstrated multiple times now to be struggling with conditioning. The Nuggets will need to exert pressure on Davis and other post defenders through Jokic’s tremendous presence and creativity if they want to force a Game 6.
Whether they manage to mount the series comeback or not though, I like the Nuggets to continue their run of covering the spread (now 12-5-1 ATS in the playoffs) in a game that will have this deep team once again playing with their backs against the wall - a position they’ve excelled at numerous times in the last month.