Alas, the Denver Nuggets will not sweep the Los Angeles Lakers. Say what you want about Denver, but if they are anything, they are gentlemen. Which is why tonight they will attempt to hand the Lakers the proverbial gentlemen’s sweep and close out the series in five games. In order to do that the Nuggets will need to start taking first halves seriously. They have trailed at halftime in every game in the series thus far. Meanwhile on the Lakers side they’ll need to get more contributions from their role players like they got from D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves in game four. Some big games from the reserves is something the Nuggets could benefit from as well as their bench has yet to put together any consistent production.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (3-1) vs Los Angeles Lakers (1-3)

When: 8:00 PM MDT

Where: The Can. Denver, CO.

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy…unless it’s the romanticized 18th century type. TNT. AltitudeTV where available (AltitudeTV is available on DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and Fubo TV). League Pass for non-Nuggets market viewers. Claim to be a voodoo doctor here to bewitch the bench into remembering they can make outside shots. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio.

Rival blog: Silver Screen & Roll

The Matchup

Position Nuggets Lakers Advantage
PG Jamal Murray D’Angelo Russell Nuggets
SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Austin Reaves Even
SF Michael Porter Jr. LeBron James Lakers
PF Aaron Gordon Rui Hacimura Nuggets
C Nikola Jokic Anthony Davis Nuggets
Bench Reggie Jackson, Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, Justin Holiday Spencer Dinwiddie, Gabe Vincent, Jaxon Hayes, Taurean Prince Even

Injury Report: Reggie Jackson – probable (ankle), Jamal Murray – questionable (calf), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee); Anthony Davis – probable (wrist), LeBron James – probable (ankle), Jarred Vanderbilt – questionable (foot), Jalen Hood-Schifino – out (back), Cam Reddish – out (ankle).

The Three Things

The thing to watch for: Jamal Murray vs D’Angelo Russell

Apr 22, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) shoots over Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) in the first quarter during game two of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It’s become very clear that this is the matchup that swings the pendulum. Russell played well in game two when Denver won at the buzzer, and in game four which is the Lakers only victory thus far. Meanwhile Jamal really hasn’t played well at all save for the fourth quarter of game two. If the Nuggets can keep Russell in check and especially if Jamal can get going then this will be an easy victory for the Nuggets. That being said, Murray is listed as questionable as he continues to be hampered by leg injuries all season so if he does go tonight his performance will hinge first and foremost on how healthy he is feeling.

The thing to remember: Denver is playing with their food

Look, I get it, you beat a team eight times in a row and draw them as your first round matchup you probably don’t take it as seriously as you should. That’s manifested itself in this series in the form of Denver falling behind double digits in every single game. Now, clearly Denver is the better team because in three of those four games they erased those double digit leads and got the win but in game four it finally came back to bite them. Enough is enough. The Nuggets need to come into tonight as the more focused and hungry team and end this series. I’m looking for a twenty point blowout, I’m looking for Denver to erase any doubt about the difference in talent level between these teams, I’m looking for “who’s you daddy?” chants in the second quarter. Bury this team, don’t give them a glimmer of hope and move forward in the playoffs.

The thing to bet: Jokic assists over 9.5 (-130)

Jamal is hampered and may not play, Reggie Jackson either had a miracle ankle surgery or is still fighting through a sprain he suffered less than a week ago. I feel very confident that the offense is going to run through Nikola tonight. -130 isn’t the best odds but double digit assists for Nikola feels like a sure bet. If you’re feeling froggy you can head over to BetMGM and take the alternate assists line of 13+ and get +333 odds.