2012 NBA Playoff Predictions: Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Game 1 Odds

The Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers open up their best-of-seven Western Conference series on Sunday at the Staples Center, with the opening tip scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

Las Vegas oddsmakers have established the Lakers as 4.5-point home favorites, while the total has dropped a full point to settle in at 201.5.

Los Angeles enters as the No. 3 seed and will be looking to move past the painful memory of getting bounced out of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round a year ago. The Lakers are 67-36 all-time in Game 1 of a best-of-seven series.

Kobe Bryant is still the star of the show offensively. He finished just behind Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (28.0) for the league's scoring title, averaging 27.9 points per game. The Lakers guard is still in search of his sixth championship ring, which would tie him with all-time great Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls.

Sports bettors will find that the Lakers are 5-16 against the spread (ATS) in their last 21 games as a favorite, while the "over" is 17-7 in that situation.

Denver finished the regular season in strong fashion to earn the No. 6 seed, coming away with wins in eight of its final 10 games. The Nuggets tallied a respectable 18-15 record away from the Mile High City, but dropped both contests at today's venue.

The Nuggets have four players in the starting lineup averaging double figures in scoring, with former North Carolina Tar Heels point guard Ty Lawson leading the way at 16.4 points per game. He played a major part in pacing the league's top-scoring offense (104.1 PPG).

From a betting perspective, the team's fantastic 8-1 ATS mark as a road underdog of 3.5 to 6.0 points is hard to ignore, with the "over" going 5-4 in those contests.

I suggest taking the points in the series opener, especially with the Lakers missing the physical play of Metta World Peace for the first seven games.


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