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Western Conference Finals Game 1 is finally here, and Eytan Shander is giving us his picks for tonight's matchup

The WCF opens up in one of the most dramatic fashions we’ve seen in quite some time. The Lakers bring their own level of theatre, notably the continued discussion about LeBron James’ legacy. Meanwhile it’s the Denver Nuggets pulling off the 3-1 comeback, not once but twice. Let’s go!

Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Predictions

BET: Nuggets 1Q ML @ +180

The Lakers can say whatever they want to downplay how little they see a threat in the Nuggets, but you’ll see it early in the game. Denver will come out with the same level of aggression we’ve come to expect. Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic will lead the way to a higher scoring first quarter, one that the Lakers won’t match. This is going to be a different matchup for Anthony Davis, and I don’t anticipate the Lakers immediately figuring out their matchups. There’s also the human element of it. Both James and Davis were successful during the regular season against Denver, safe to think they will take them lightly – at least in the first quarter. I love Denver to come out and challenge the Lakers defense, force them to stretch the floor and create difficult one-on-ones. This should be enough for them to get the first quarter, which is all we need here.

BET: “Any Other Result” HT/FT  @ +1600

PointsBet is offering this with a draw factored in for any result. It’s worth a half-unit longshot bet. If the above happens – Denver wins the first quarter – there’s a good shot at a Lakers run in the second quarter. The good news about having a couple of extra days off is being able to turn on the jets a little earlier in the game. LA won’t lose the first quarter because they are tired, or out of gas, but rather not taking anything Denver did seriously enough. That would drastically change once James and his squad find themselves trailing after one. I wouldn’t break the bank on this one, but even the second half could draw. LA has a big enough lead heading into the fourth quarter and that could mean a major push for Denver.

BET: Nuggets +6 @ +108

The line is sitting at 7 right now but I’m willing to bargain it down another point. I think the public still hasn’t totally bought into Denver, and it’s easy to lay out a big line to trap them into thinking - Lakers blowout. I don’t see it happening. There’s a general sense of belief surrounding this Nuggets team, solidified with their most recent close out of the Clippers. We (now) know they have the talent to hang with anyone in the NBA, even beat them in a best-of-7, so it’s hard for me to avoid taking points, knowing the Nuggets have a great shot of winning this game. The Lakers haven’t been fantastic in game 1’s so far, and it speaks to how little they see in their opponents. While you and I may believe the Nuggets can win, the Lakers certainly do not. Something that might play out in Denver’s favor, enough to keep this thing close.

BET: Over 213.5 @ +112

This game should provide plenty of offense, that should almost come as a given. We’ve seen scoring slow down across the board since the opening of the NBA bubble, but this one has all the makings of a shootout. The biggest catalyst we need here is Denver shooting the 3. That will open up the game – the quicker the better – to where the Lakers are matching. We might see a big night from both Jokic and Davis taking more shots from the arc. It won’t be outlandish to expect a 3-point battle – with the Lakers prevailing. We add Murray - who makes it really difficult for Nuggets scoring runs to truly be halted. His ability to get to the line and still add points is clutch for the over to hit. We also know both teams are capable of pretty high scoring quarters, especially balancing out a lower one. This won’t be the Clippers stumbling their way to 40 points in a half.


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