There is some indecision from the experts on which team will walk away with the victory in the opening game of the series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets, but one thing for sure is the fans are guaranteed to be winners.
That’s what happens when some of the best players in the NBA square off with the Western Conference title on the line.
Game 1 is 9 p.m. ET Friday inside the Orlando bubble, and the Lakers are the favorites at -7 on the spread. The money line has Los Angeles at -280 while the underdog Nuggets are +240. Between the two, oddsmakers are setting the points total at 211.
The Lakers had the easier road between the two teams as they won each of their first two rounds in five games. They topped the Trail Blazers, 4-1, to open the playoffs and then moved on to cruise through the Houston Rockets, 4-1, to advance to the conference finals game.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis led the way for the Lakers, though it’s possible James won’t be on the floor in Game 1. He’s currently listed as probable with an aggravated groin. Rajon Rondo (back) is currently listed as questionable, and Dion Waiters (groin) is doubtful.
James is averaging 26.6 points per game with 10.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists in the postseason, while Davis is at 27.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. As a team, the Lakers are scoring 114.4 points per 100 possessions.
Denver had a much more difficult road, but a far more exciting one. Against the Utah Jazz, the Nuggets fell behind, 3-1, in the series before making a comeback to win and advance. In the second round, it was a similar scene as they ended up trailing the Los Angeles Clippers in the series, 3-1, before mounting a victorious surge to earn a trip to the conference finals.
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are expected to lead the team offensively, just as they did in the last series. Both are healthy and will be playing in Game 1. Will Barton is out for the Nuggets with a knee injury.
Denver is allowing just 1.07 points per possession, which showcases how improved the team defense has become in the postseason. Individually, Jokic is averaging 25.4 points with 10.8 rebounds and 6 assists each playoff game, while Murray has 27.1 points, 6.4 assists and 5 boards on average.
The rest of the schedule
Each game will be followed by a rest day for the two squads before they pick up action once again to determine who will play in the 2020 NBA Finals.
Following Friday’s opener, the two teams are slated to play Sunday, Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m. and again on Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. Game 4 will be Thursday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. All times are ET.
If needed, Game 5 will be Sept. 26, Game 6 will be Sept. 28 and Game 7 will be Sept. 30.