This article provides in-depth analysis of this Game 4 matchup between the Nuggets and Lakers, including a betting prediction, odds, key matchups and starting lineups.
The Los Angeles Lakers will take the first step in attempting a historic series comeback when they host the Denver Nuggets on Monday night for Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.
Facing a 3-0 deficit after another fourth-quarter collapse in Game 3, the Lakers are looking to erase years of NBA and franchise history. NBA teams are 0-149 when trailing 3-0 in a best-of-seven series, and the Lakers’ franchise is 0-8 in Game 4 when down 3-0.
Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Game 4 Prediction
The way this series is going, it might be more surprising than not if the Lakers find a way to avoid being swept. What would be even more surprising is if they find a way to win a tight game.
The Lakers have had a chance to win all three games, and all three times they have crumbled in the fourth quarter while the Nuggets have surged. With that recent history, if they’re going to win Game 4, it seems more likely that they would win it comfortably rather than winning a tight game in the final moments.
If that storyline proves true, then taking the Lakers -3.5 would be the prudent bet against the spread. On the other hand, the Nuggets’ moneyline offers much better value than taking the 3.5 points at -110. If the game is tight enough for the Nuggets to cover +3.5, then I like their chances to win this game outright.
Between those two options, I am betting on the team that looks like the best team in basketball right now, with the best overall player in Nikola Jokic and the hottest scorer right now in Jamal Murray. When you consider the historical precedents mentioned above, I become even more convinced.
Not only are the Lakers 0-8 all-time when trailing 3-0, but only 38.9% of the teams in NBA history that trailed 3-0 managed to avoid being swept (58 of 149).
Getting a bet at better than even money for that trend to continue is hard to pass up.
Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Betting Odds
The Lakers opened as -3.5 favorites for Game 4 after closing at -5.5 for Game 3. That two-point swing can be partly attributed to the 11-point loss the Lakers suffered Saturday night.
As home favorites, the Laker’s moneyline is at -165 while the Nuggets’ is at +140. Both the spread and moneyline remain unchanged from their opening odds as of this writing on Sunday afternoon. That could change considering the Nuggets’ are getting over 90% of the handle against the spread and over 80% on the moneyline at DraftKings, per VSiN.
The over/under opened at 224 and creeped up half a point to 224.5. That is right in range of the previous three games, in which the over is 2-1.
The implied outcome of these odds is the Lakers winning 115-109.5.
- Prior to Game 3, the Lakers were 6-0 ATS in their previous six home games, and they were undefeated at home in the playoffs.
- The Over is 6-1-1 in the Nuggets’ last eight road games, and 4-1 in the Lakers’ last five overall.
- The Over is 5-1 in each of these team’s last six Conference Finals games.
The most compelling matchup in this series continues to be the battle of the bigs between Nikola Jokic and Anthony Davis, but the Lakers’ ability to score efficiently in the fourth quarter might be the most important factor in the game.
All three games of this series so far have been up for grabs in the fourth quarter.
In Game 1, the Lakers were within three with just over three minutes to play but went just 1-5 from the field in the final minutes while the Nuggets went 2-3 and made four clutch free throws.
The Lakers led Game 2 by two points with under 10 minutes to play, then the Nuggets went on a 15-1 run in which they hit 5-of-8 from three. The Lakers managed to cut the deficit to two with just over a minute to go, but it was too little too late.
Finally in Game 3, the Lakers held a 1-point lead with under eight minutes to play before Denver went on a 13-0 run to take a lead that would never dip below seven.
Over the last two games, the Lakers are -17 in the fourth quarter while shooting 18-of-42 (42.9%) and 6-of-20 (30%) from three. The Nuggets have shot 21-of-38 (55.3%) and 12-of-24 (50%) from three.
The Lakers simply need to execute better in the fourth quarter if they want to avoid a sweep.
Nikola Jokic vs. Anthony Davis
This has been the premier matchup of this series, and so far Jokic has arguably outplayed Davis in two of the three games, and of course he is 3-0 in the standings.
Davis finally outplayed his counterpart in Game 3, notching 28 points (11-18) and 18 rebounds while Jokic tallied 24 points (9-19), six boards and eight assists. But Jokic showed up when it mattered most, carrying the Nuggets with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers might need even more from Davis if they want to keep their season alive.
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineups
Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineups
Denver Nuggets Injuries: none
Los Angeles Lakers Injuries: SF Lebron James (P – ankle), C Anthony Davis (P – foot), C Mo Bamba (O – ankle)