The Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers square off in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Friday night.
The Lakers enter the series as the favorite, after dominating the Houston Rockets in the semifinals (4-1). Los Angeles has lost only twice in the playoffs this season (8-2).
On the other hand, the Nuggets have already exceeded the expectations, as they have survived both the first-round series and the semifinals.
Denver came back twice from a 3-1 deficit, first against the Utah Jazz (3-4) and then against title contenders Los Angeles Clippers (3-4).
The Nuggets enter the series as heavy underdogs, with the early betting odds listing the Lakers as the favorite to win Game 1.
The majority of betting websites consider the Lakers as the odds-on favorite to win the series, too, and advance to the NBA Finals. Fans can bet on basketball with Betway and pick the winner of tonight’s Game 1.
For their part, the Nuggets have the momentum on their side and are not afraid of the Lakers. The superstar of Denver, Jamal Murray sent a warning to his opponents.
“They gotta worry about us too. If we’re going to go in there and think about them, then it is going to be a long night for us.
We just need to go out there and — I will say: effort and having fun. It’s simple for us,” Murray told Rachel Nichols of ESPN.
On the other hand, the Lakers will try to contain both Murray and Nikola Jokic, who are considered the top offensive weapons of Denver.
Jokic enters the series averaging 19.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and seven assists and is the main reason (along with Murray) why Denver reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2009.
“He’s a tough guy to guard. (He’s) able to shoot the ball, he can pass extremely well. He can go in the post. There are a lot of ways he can beat you,” Davis said about Jokic, via Mike Trudell of Lakers.com.
The big man of LA is ready to lead his team to the NBA Finals. He is currently averaging 27.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks in the playoffs.
Along with LeBron James (26.6 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists in the postseason), Davis will try to help the Lakers take the upper hand in the series.
Los Angeles has won its last four games, with its sole defeat coming in Game 1 against the Rockets (4-1).
On the contrary, Denver lost twice to the Clippers, but then earned three straight victories to close out the series and qualify for the Conference Finals.
Game 1 tips off at 9.00pm Eastern Time. Betway and other betting websites list the Lakers as the favorite. Yet, the Nuggets know how to defy the (betting) odds and will attempt to upset LA and advance to the Finals.