Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers Preview (5/20/23): Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds

The Lakers return to Los Angeles for Game 3 action after dropping their first two games to Denver. Can they bounce back with a home win, or will the Nuggets come one step closer to advancing to their first NBA Finals appearance ever?

Check out our game prediction and betting picks below, featuring expert analysis and breakdown of key matchups, updated injury news, and projected starting lineups.

Denver Nuggets Vs. Los Angeles Lakers Betting Odds

For Game 3, the Los Angeles Lakers are 5.5-point home favorites against Denver, despite dropping the first two games of this Western Conference Finals. The Lakers will be without Mo Bamba once again, although he has not really been a part of their rotation. Collin Gillespie will also miss Game 3 action, as he has been out for the entirety of the 2022-23 season.

Denver Nuggets Vs. Los Angeles Lakers Prediction

While Nuggets fans should feel good about their first two wins at home against the scalding-hot Los Angeles Lakers, they are not in the clear yet. This is a seven-game series, and there have been numerous teams that came back from an 0-2 deficit, even if the odds are against them.

If it weren’t for a Jamal Murray fourth-quarter outburst in Game 2, Los Angeles would have left Denver with a tied series; the Lakers took the Nuggets down to the wire in Game 1, too. Neither of these games was a blowout, and it felt like Denver had to do everything in its power to hold off this tough Lakers squad. So what will happen in Game 3 in Los Angeles? Will the Lakers roll over? Not likely.

The Lakers didn’t mail it in during Game 1 or 2, and they certainly won’t do that at home in front of their fans. Los Angeles has been a force at home during the playoffs, winning all six of those games by an average margin of over 18 points while covering this 5.5-point spread five times. Their net rating of 18.4 in what could be considered a fairly substantial sample size should be an indication of their dominance at Arena.

Another concerning trend is Nikola Jokic’s struggles in the fourth quarter. Since Denver can’t lean on its bench much, Jokic is gassed toward the end of the game. If the Lakers lock in on Murray, then their superior half-court defense will allow them to break away in the fourth quarter and cover this spread, especially since they are shooting close to 35% from downtown at home (allowing opponents to shoot only 28%.)

Betting Trends

  • Denver is 7-6 ATS in the 2023 playoffs.
  • Los Angeles is 2-0 ATS in the 2023 Western Conference Finals.
  • Los Angeles is 10-4 ATS in the 2023 playoffs.
  • Los Angeles is 4-1-1 ATS in games against Denver this season.
  • The over record on the point total is 2-4 in games featuring the Nuggets and Lakers this season.

Key Matchups

Once again, our key matchup will feature Nikola Jokic versus Anthony Davis, a battle between two exceptionally talented big men. Take a look at the analysis below to see whether AD can bounce back from an awful 4-15 shooting night or if Jokic keeps pushing the pedal down.

Nikola Jokic vs. Anthony Davis: Part III

Nikola Jokic has arguably outplayed Anthony Davis in both Games 1 and 2; Game 2 makes sense, as AD shot just 4-15 from the field. However, Game 1 was historic for both players, as AD posted a 40-point double-double, while Jokic went for a line of 34/21/14. Will Davis finally win a matchup? It does not seem like that will be in the cards.

Jokic has averaged a triple-double in five road games during the 2023 Playoffs, posting 36 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds on a 64/56/82 shooting split in five games. That is an absolutely ludicrous output in a large sample size. Meanwhile, Davis has failed to score at least 20 points in three of the Lakers’ six home games. Let’s not complicate this: Jokic will be extraordinary once again, but I still don’t see the Nuggets winning Game 3. Advantage: Jokic.

Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup

PG: Jamal Murray
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Michael Porter Jr
PF: Aaron Gordon
C: Nikola Jokic

Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineups

PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Austin Reaves
SF: Jarred Vanderbilt
PF: LeBron James
C: Anthony Davis

Key Injuries

Denver Nuggets Injuries: Collin Gillespie (Out)

Los Angeles Lakers Injuries: Mo Bamba (Out)

Drew is one of the NBA Lead Writers at, specializing in betting content such as game predictions and player props. With a deep knowledge of players and prospects, Drew has an extensive edge in covering everything NBA.

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