With the LA Clippers pulling off one of, if not THE biggest choking in NBA playoff history, after blowing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets, who will face off against the LA Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
Here are the odds:
We are down to the final four teams in the NBA Playoffs. Updated betting odds (Bovada):
— Odds Shark (@OddsShark) September 16, 2020
LeBron and the Lakers would have 6 days off between their last game when they defeated the Houston Rockets. With a healthy team, the Lakers are the favorites to win the title. LeBron James is playing at an all-time level, averaging almost 26 points, 10.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and almost 2 blocks and steals per game in the last series, and doesn’t look to be slowing down.
Anthony Davis averaged almost 25.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game in the series vs. Houston while shooting 60% from the field. I predicted he’d average career numbers; and he did. The absence of a big for Houston allowed Davis to do essentially what he wanted on the offensive end.
The addition of Rajon Rondo proved key, as this gave them another playmaker to run the offense when LeBron needs a rest; or even to give the opposing defense a different look to have LeBron play off the ball. This also allowed them to play small ball, making guys like JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard spectators, but with the upcoming matchup vs. Denver, expect them to return to the rotation.
The comeback kids, coming back from their second 3-1 deficit of this year’s playoffs, they have shown grit and resilience to give up. Mike Malone deserves a lot of credit for his coaching in the playoffs. He could’ve packed it in after being down 15+ points at some point in games 5 and 6 against the LA Clippers, they would not go away. He might be the unsung hero for the Denver Nuggets, as his adjustments while also being led by their two stars have them where they are now, their first Western Conference Finals since 2009.
After struggled in the first four games of the series, averaging 17.8 points on just 38% from the field. But, he turned it around in games 5-7 averaging 29 points on 51% from the field and a whopping 54% from three on 7 attempts per game! He’s definitely been the most surprising star of these playoffs.
Nikola Jokic was up to his usual ways, a stat sheet machine. Averaging 24 points and 13.5 rebounds per game in the Clippers series, he dominated game 7, but he only took 13 shots. 16 points, 22 rebounds, and 13 assists, The Joker might’ve cemented himself as the best center in basketball with his performances in the bubble.
What each team can do to win
Lakers: I don’t think their guards can play the same caliber of defense that their bigs can, so they’re going to have to not allow Jokic to go off and beat them. They ranked in the top 10 in team rebounding, so allowing Jokic to get offensive rebounds to pass out to one of his shooters will be ideal.
At the end of the day, LeBron and AD are going to do them. They’re superstars, so the others need to step up, and they need to step up big. Danny Green is starting to find his shot, and Kyle Kuzma is shooting over 50% from the field. Like I said before, Rajon Rondo allows them to play with a few different lineups and gives LeBron much needed rest when needed.
Nuggets: This might sound obvious, but don’t go down 3-1 again. You’ve played with fire twice, but three times won’t get it done. Keep playing like you’re down 3-1 instead.
They need to have big games from Jamal Murray. If he can keep up the stellar level of play he’s been producing lately, the Lakers are in a world f trouble.
Preview of a video I'll have out. The Denver Nuggets unlike Houston do not want to switch on every ball screen. Will have guys fight over to recover while Jokic stays in a drop. A counter is to have the screen set "high". Gets LeBron downhill and makes Jokic defend in space. pic.twitter.com/pKp1i8egcO
— Raj C. (@UnwrittenRul3s) September 17, 2020
Defensively, containing AD will be key. Double team off of him will force shots into the LA role players, and I don’t think they’re good enough; or at least shown me the consistency to take them as a real threat. As long as they try to reel in AD and force the Lakers role players to beat them, I think they have a legitimate shot to win this series.
My prediction: Lakers in 6