Nikola Jokic has a showcase against the Lakers on Thursday night (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- Player Prop Bets have been posted for Thursday night’s showdown between the Denver Nuggets and LA Lakers (TNT, 10 p.m. EST)
- LeBron James and Nikola Jokic will square-off in a battle of top MVP contenders
- Read below for the best plays in tonight’s premier matchup
The biggest game on Thursday night’s NBA schedule is a playback of last season’s Western Conference Finals, when the Denver Nuggets head to Southern California to take on the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers and Nuggets are third and fourth in the conference standings, respectively, but this game features two of the top contenders for league MVP in LeBron James and Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets are five-point underdogs, and this is the first meeting between the two sides this season.
The Lakers have the NBA’s top scoring defense this year but the Nuggets have one of the league’s most efficient offenses. The big names on both sides will be looking to step up, and that could pay big dividends for bettors looking at individual performances.
Nuggets vs Lakers Player Prop Bets and Odds
|Player (DEN)||Points||Rebounds||Assists||Three-Pointers Made|
|Nikola Jokic||23.5 (O -120 | U -102)||10.5 (O -102 | U -120)||6.5 (O -138 | U +112)||1.5 (O +140 | U -180)|
|Jamal Murray||18.5 (O -108 | U -114)||3.5 (O -105 | U -115)||4.5 (O +108 | U -132)||1.5 (O -158 | U +124)|
|Michael Porter Jr.||13.5 (O -120 | U -102)||6.5 (O -128 | U +104)||N/A||1.5 (O -210 | U +162)|
|Player (LAL)||Points||Rebounds||Assists||Three-Pointers Made|
|LeBron James||25.5 (O +100 | U -122)||7.5 (O -102 | U -120)||8.5 (O +104 | U -128)||2.5 (O -120 | U -108)|
|Anthony Davis||23.5 (O -104 | U -118)||8.5 (O +102 | U -124)||3.5 (O +130 | U -160)||N/A|
|Dennis Schroder||13.5 (O -106 | U -116)||3.5 (O +122 | U -150)||3.5 (O -152 | U +124)||1.5 (O +150 | U -196)|
Odds taken from FanDuel on Feb. 4th
All Business for the Joker
Among all the players set to go in this one, Jokic has the highest total minutes played and the highest player efficiency rating; he’s second-highest in the latter figure behind Philadelphia center Joel Embiid. Jokic also has the highest usage rate for Denver’s starters, so it’s easy to see how he’s worked his way into the most valuable player conversation.
JOKIC has 22 PTS (9/11 FG) in the 1st quarter vs Gobert & the Jazz 🔥pic.twitter.com/5uOLqGy2dU
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 31, 2021
In nine total games played against the Lakers last season, Jokic only cleared his projected point total of 23.5 once – the same could be said for his expected rebound total of 10.5. However, this LA team is not as stout defensively in the paint as it was last year, and has the sixth-highest average points allowed in that area over their last three games. Meanwhile, nearly 60% of the total shots Jokic has taken this season have come from within ten feet of the rim and he’s coming off of a 47-point performance against Utah on Sunday.
The premier big men that Los Angeles has faced recently have all found success down low. Embiid scored 28 points and had one three-pointer against LA on January 27, and Cleveland’s Andre Drummond put up 25 against the Lakers in the game before that. Jokic has been steady offensively whether he has been at home or on the road, but has shot fewer threes at a lower percentage away from Denver. He’s not a recommended play to hit two-or-more threes in this one, but Denver is going to need him to step up and he should have every opportunity to clear 23.5 points.
The Pick: Jokic Over 23.5 Points (-120)
2021 NBA MVP Award Odds Tracker
Will the King Feast?
Few players are have the sense of self that LeBron James does. James is 36-years-old, but has to be aware of the conversations going on that place him among the early favorites to win the MVP this season.
Master Tactician@KingJames x #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/GcvPl9zD70
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 31, 2021
The bottom line is with another candidate for the award on the opposing side, James should primarily look to score, but that might not translate into big points. Denver ranks 28th in the league in pace of play, and in the four games that the Lakers have played against teams that are in the bottom ten of that category, James has only scored more than tonight’s 25.5-point projection once. For the season, James is averaging 25 points per game, but he’s only gone over that in five of his last ten outings.
Without many attractive bets to take at plus-money in this one, a case could be made for James to cash in as a distributor. Denver has given up the third-most assists to opponents this season and that number is even higher when the Nuggets are the road team. James also has the seventh-highest assist percentage in the NBA – just behind Jokic at six.
A more sensible bet to consider may be taking the under on Anthony Davis’ rebound total. Denver’s opponents have pulled down the fewest defensive rebounds in the league, and Davis is currently grabbing offensive boards at the second-lowest clip of his career. Over his last ten games, Davis has only come away with nine-or-more rebounds five times. With fewer possessions than average expected against a team with the third-highest shooting percentage in the league, he’s unlikely to clear 8.5 tonight.
The Pick: Anthony Davis Under 8.5 Rebounds (-124)
Nick Krueger has over a decade of experience in sports media, covering a wide range of events including two Olympic Games for Yahoo Sports. Other areas of focus for Nick throughout his career have included college football recruiting, NCAA athletics and Major League Baseball Spring Training.