The Denver Nuggets take on the Los Angeles Lakers as the 2023 NBA Western Conference finals begin on Tuesday. Game 1 is hosted at Ball Arena in Denver, with the Nuggets earning home-court advantage as the No. 1 seed.
Denver has been the best team during the 2023 NBA playoffs, winning 8 of 11 postseason games with a +8.6 net rating. The Nuggets have played well on defense, giving up only 110.1 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs, but Denver makes its living with elite offense. The Nuggets ranked in the top five of the NBA in offensive efficiency, field goal percentage, 2-point percentage, 3-point percentage and assists per game during the regular season, and Denver’s efficiency has only improved in the playoffs. Denver is scoring almost 1.19 points per possession in postseason action, No. 1 in the NBA, and the Nuggets are shooting 48.9% from the field and 37.9% from 3-point range.
The Nuggets are also averaging 25.2 assists with only 11.5 turnovers per game, and Denver has stellar supporting metrics. That includes 16.4 fast break points per game, a 31.1% offensive rebound rate and a league-leading 53.6 points in the paint per contest during the playoffs. Nikola Jokic is the centerpiece for Denver, with the two-time NBA MVP averaging 30.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game during the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have found their footing on offense in the playoffs, averaging 24.7 assists, 16.3 fast-break points, 50.3 points in the paint and only 12.8 turnovers per game through two series. Los Angeles has dynamic offensive forces in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but the Lakers are unquestionably led by their defense. Davis is the anchor, leading the 2023 NBA playoffs in both rebounding (14.1 per game) and blocked shots (3.3 per game). He is a tremendous deterrent for opposing offenses near the rim, and the Lakers build their approach around Davis’ presence.
Los Angeles leads the playoffs in allowing only 106.5 points per 100 possessions, and the Lakers also lead with 7.1 blocked shots per game. Opponents are shooting only 42.2% from the field and 33.4% from 3-point range against Los Angeles, with the Lakers also giving up only 16.3 free throw attempts and 46.7 points in the paint per game. Los Angeles was also in the top five of the NBA in defensive rating (111.3) after the All-Star break this season, and the Lakers led the league in free throw prevention over the full 82-game schedule, giving up only 20.8 attempts per contest.
Tip of the Game
Game 1 with Davis Probable to Play, Betting against LeBron is never fun, as he continues to defy father time and is averaging 23.4 points per game this postseason. While Denver may very well win Game 1, check out the odds and money line to determine the winner for Game 1 NBA Western Conference Finals.