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by Matt Fargo - 04/08/2009
The Betting Numbers
As of this writing, no line has been released but we should expect to see the Lakers favored anywhere from five to eight points and a total well over 210.
2008-09 Season Series
The Lakers won the first two meetings this season, but both of those victories took place in November. The Nuggets gained some revenge with a home win in February as two-point home underdogs.
There will be a lot on the line for both teams. Denver is inching closer to winning the Northwest Division for the second time in four years as it has a 2.5-game lead on Portland entering Wednesday nightâ€™s home game against Oklahoma City. We will likely see that lead climb to three games or even more as the Blazers visit San Antonio on Wednesday. If it all plays out like it should, the Nuggets can clinch the division and a likely number two seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a win in Los Angeles on Thursday night. The Nuggets and Blazers meet in the season finale but it could be meaningless at that point.
Heading into the game against the Thunder, Denver is riding a seven-game winning streak while also being victorious in 12 of their last 13 games. This is their best stretch of the season and it could not have come at a better time than when the games count the most. Denver is one of only four teams in the Western Conference and just one of seven teams in the entire league that has a winning road record. Being able to win away from home is vital come playoff time and that was something it was unable to do last season, dropping two games against the Lakers, neither of which were even close.
While Denver is playing for the division, the Lakers are playing for possible home court advantage throughout the entire playoffs. Los Angeles trails the Cavaliers by just a half-game for the best overall record in the league but will likely go back to a full game if Cleveland can defeat the Wizards at home on Wednesday night. The Lakers swept the season series with Cleveland so a tie with the same record gives it to Los Angeles. Playing Denver, Portland and Utah in three of the final five games is not easy but two of those are at home where the Lakers are 33-5 on the season.
Los Angeles is playing good but not great as it is 14-6 in its last 20 games since that loss to Denver back on February 27th. The Lakers were dominant early in the season but of these 14 most recent wins, eight of the last 12 have been by single digits including three of the last four at home. With a lot on the line still, it is rather surprising seeing the Lakers squeak by opponents but at the same time, there is no reason to be keeping the starters on the floor for extended periods with the playoffs approaching, The Lakers are just 11-10 against the leagueâ€™s top ten.
Against the Numbers
Denver is 44-33-1 ATS this season, the best record against the number in the Western Conference and 5th best overall. The Nuggets are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games (heading into the Oklahoma City game) and this includes a perfect 4-0 ATS run on the road. Overall the Nuggets are 22-17 ATS on the road but that does drop to 9-9 ATS as a road underdog where they have won only five of those 18 games outright. They are 11-9 ATS playing in the second of back-to-back games and this includes a 5-3 ATS record when going from home to the road.
The Lakers were covering machines to start the season, going 11-6 ATS in their first 17 games but it has been downhill since. Los Angeles did have another nice run in late January and February where it went 10-4 ATS but in the 20 games since then, it is 9-11 ATS including a 2-4 ATS run. Despite the 33 home wins, the Lakers have covered only 17 of those games and they are just 31-37-1 ATS as a favorite on the year. While none of this looks very appealing, Los Angeles has fared better against its own, going 26-22 ATS within the Western Conference.