LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 08: Los Angeles Lakers Forward LeBron James (23) drives to the basket against Los Angeles Clippers Center Montrezl Harrell (5) during a NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 8, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- The Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets meet for the second time this season on February 14th
- LeBron James led the Lakers to a comfortable win just 10 days ago
- Get the latest NBA odds, betting preview and a pick below
The Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets matchup on February 14th 2021. It’s the second time these two have faced off in the 2020-21 regular season, following the Lakers’ comprehensive win back on February 4th. Denver has gone 2-2 since that loss, but they won both of their last two. The Lakers are on a seven-game winning streak as they pursue the Utah Jazz atop the Western Conference.
Denver will likely be without Gary Harris (hip) once again. The Lakers should be at full strength after Anthony Davis (Achilles) returned for the Friday win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver Nuggets Odds
|Team||Spread||Moneyline||Total Points at FanDuel|
|Los Angeles Lakers||-2.5 (-110)||-142||Ov 215 (-110)|
|Denver Nuggets||+2.5 (-110)||+120||Un 215 (-110)|
Odds taken on Feb 13 from FanDuel
The Lakers are on the strangest of win streaks. Per Samuel Quinn, the Lakers are -41 in their last five first quarters. They have made a habit of starting games slowly, even against opponents with a massive talent disadvantage. This happened again on Friday, and the Grizzlies held a double-digit lead at the half, but it wasn’t enough.
The Lakers are -41 in their past five first quarters.
They’ve won all five games.
— Samuel H. Quinn (@SamQuinnCBS) February 13, 2021
The Lakers have shown an ability to flick the switch. It was the third quarter on Friday. On other occasions, it has taken them longer to turn it up a notch. Their defense remains comfortably the best in the NBA so far this season – they have repeatedly locked up offenses.
This trend was evident in Los Angeles’ previous game with Denver. The Nuggets led by 12 at the half. The Lakers outscored them by 20 in the third quarter, and LeBron James put in a 14-point, eight-assist second half with no turnovers.
Lakers points allowed in the second half during this winning streak:
– 46 (Boston)
– 53 (Atlanta)
– 35 (Denver)
– 52 (Detroit)
– 50 (OKC)
– 38 (OKC)
– 46 (Memphis)
They never topped 53 points once. Only three teams (Lakers, Knicks, Jazz) allow 53 points per half on average.
— Samuel H. Quinn (@SamQuinnCBS) February 13, 2021
As good as this Lakers team is, they cannot afford to keep giving up first half leads to good teams. It’s one thing overturning deficits against the Thunder or Pistons, but fighting back against these Nuggets is much trickier.
Nuggets Defense Improves
Inconsistency has plagued the Nuggets so far in 2020-21. Generally, though, they are trending in the right direction. Much of that is down to defensive improvement after a very poor start. Denver is 11th in defensive rating in February. Pair that with the fifth-best offensive rating in the NBA, and that’s a scary opponent.
Guarding LeBron James is every team’s greatest concern. Denver lost Jerami Grant in the offseason, and there’s a gaping hole in their defense as a result. James was able to completely take over when these teams last met, and he’s coming off another masterpiece against Memphis. The four-time MVP was a +28 in the second half, and finished with 28 points, nine boards and eight dimes on 60% from the field.
While the Nuggets have got better defensively, they still rank dead last in opponent field goal percentage at the rim. They sit 26th in percentage of opponent field goal attempts from the corners. Getting to the rim and creating open corner threes are James’ speciality.
Michael Malone is walking a tightrope in these matchups. Finding enough offense to score on this Lakers defense while having enough defense to stay in the game is an unenviable balancing act for Malone with this roster. Michael Porter Jr played under 20 minutes when these two last met – will he score enough to earn more minutes on Sunday?
Lakers Focus Will Be Challenged
It’s impossible to forget how the Lakers stifled the Nuggets in the second half of their game earlier this month. Denver’s usually brilliant offense was suddenly unable to make a shot. Their defense was dissected by James.
When Nikola smiles, we all smile 😁#NikolaJokic #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/Es5UzK4NhG
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 13, 2021
Since then, though, the Lakers have played some ugly basketball. The results have still been good, but another ultra-slow start and they could find themselves in trouble on Sunday. The ability to lock in on defense is undeniable, but that will not always be enough to wrestle their way back into the game against an offense as talented as Denver.
The Nuggets are going to be a good bet on the moneyline here. They are sixth in net rating over their last 10 games, and they have got decent offensive production from their role players over the last few games. Repeat that on Sunday and they are well set to catch out the reigning champions.
Pick: Nuggets Moneyline
Sam Cox is a freelance writer and sports junkie, who has spent the past several years immersed in the online gaming industry. He has worked with 888sport, Oddschecker, and Colossus Bets to name a few. Based in the UK, Sam also runs Franchise Sports with his brother.