Lakers vs. Nuggets odds, prediction, schedule for 2024 NBA Playoffs first round series

The Nuggets and Lakers are set to meet in the NBA Playoffs for a second consecutive year.

Last year, the top-seeded Nuggets advanced to their first-ever NBA Finals with a series sweep of the seventh-seeded Lakers. This year, the teams will meet two rounds earlier, as the No. 2 seed Nuggets and No. 7 seed Lakers meet in the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

Denver swept its playoff series against Los Angeles last year, but the four wins came by a total margin of 24 points. The Nuggets went on to win the 2023 NBA title — and drew the Lakers’ ire during their deserved victory lap.

As the new season rolled around, Denver continued its dominance over LA. The Nuggets swept the regular season series, 3-0, and have now won eight straight over the Lakers, including the playoffs.

Can Denver’s duo of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray continue its dominance over LA? Or will LeBron James and Anthony Davis turn the corner to dethrone the defending champs?

Here is an overview of the upcoming series, including our prediction, odds and everything else to know about the head-to-head battle.

MORE: Can the Lakers find a way to slow down Nikola Jokic?

Lakers vs. Nuggets prediction

Prediction: Nuggets in six games

There’s something to be said about this meeting coming two rounds earlier than it did last year.

The Nuggets’ recent success over the Lakers is a sign that they are still the better team. But LA is in a better position to extend the series this time. The Lakers will enter Game 1 with three days’ rest after their Play-In Tournament victory, and the games within the series will be more spread out than last year’s conference finals. 

The Lakers are healthier and have enough momentum to take a game or two off of the Nuggets. Denver, however, is still too good, a fact that begins with Jokic’s greatness. The way things fall in line after the Joker is where the series will be decided — more on that momentarily.

Lakers vs. Nuggets betting odds

The Nuggets (-375) open as the favorite to win the series over the Lakers (+300), per BetMGM, an authorized gaming operator of the NBA. 

Lakers vs. Nuggets regular season series

The Lakers and Nuggets met three times during the 2023-24 regular season. Denver swept the season series, 3-0.

  • Oct. 24, 2023: Nuggets 119, Lakers 107
  • Feb. 8, 2024: Nuggets 114, Lakers 106
  • March 2, 2024: Nuggets 124, Lakers 114

Each of the Nuggets’ regular-season wins over the Lakers came on notable nights. On Oct. 24, Denver received its championship rings before a triple-double from Jokic fueled a 12-point victory to open the season.

In early February, the Nuggets played spoiler by earning an eight-point road win over the Lakers just hours after a statue of Kobe Bryant was unveiled outside of Arena.

Jokic (35), Michael Porter Jr. (25) and Murray (24) combined for 84 points to lead the Nuggets to a 10-point road win over the Lakers on March 2, spoiling a night where James reached the 40,000-point mark in his career.

Jamal Murray guards LeBron James

PLAYOFF SERIES PREVIEWS: Bucks vs. Pacers | Mavericks vs. Clippers

Lakers vs. Nuggets key storyline: Who will star outside of Jokic?

Jokic is, by most accounts, the best player in the world, and he is likely in line to win his third MVP trophy this year. He’s got the No. 1 spot for this series covered.

Where the competition gets interesting is how the talent falls in line after that.

During last year’s Western Conference Finals, LA simply did not have an answer for Murray. In Denver’s sweep, Murray averaged 32.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists on .527/.405/.950 shooting splits, and his performances pushed Denver to the Finals.

This time, the Lakers need Davis and James to outplay Murray. Barring out-of-body experiences from LA’s supporting cast, Davis and James being the second and third-best players in the series is the clearest path for Los Angeles to have a chance to pull off an upset.

During three regular-season meetings with Denver, James averaged 24.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists against Denver, while Davis posted averages of 22.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game. On the other side, Murray averaged 24.7 points and 9.3 assists vs. LA, while Porter averaged 21.3 points and 10.0 rebounds.

Numbers and narratives aside, Davis and James must be better than everyone not named Nikola Jokic. When Davis and James play well, it elevates Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell.

If LA’s All-Star duo isn’t up to the task, expect another quick exit for the Lakers.

Lakers vs. Nuggets schedule

Date Game Time (ET) TV channel
Saturday, April 20 Game 1 at Nuggets 8:30 p.m. ABC
TBA Game 2 at Nuggets TBA TBA
TBA Game 3 at Lakers TBA TBA
TBA Game 4 at Lakers TBA TBA
TBA Game 5 at Nuggets* TBA TBA
TBA Game 6 at Lakers* TBA TBA
TBA Game 7 at Nuggets* TBA TBA

*If necessary

Fans in the U.S. can watch the NBA Playoffs on Sling TV. Sling is the home for avid sports fans offering a range of sports channels so you can always cheer for your favorite teams with channels like ESPN, TBS, TNT, NFL Network, FS1 and more.

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