The Denver Nuggets appeared to be en route to a Game 1 blowout against the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this week before holding off the visiting team's impressive comeback. They hold a 1-0 lead in the series ahead of Game 2 on Thursday and hope to build a larger lead before hitting the road. The NBA's daily pick 'em contest is offering up prizes for the most accurate contestants, and we've evaluated a trio of them and player props alongside a premier DFS target ahead of tip-off. You can view the rest of the options here.
First to 15 points, LAL and DEN: DEN
The Nuggets exploded out of the gates in Game 1 and got whatever they wanted on offense. They outscored the visitors by 12 in the first quarter by using their size to shoot over smaller defenders and create second chance points with offensive rebounds. The Lakers made adjustments and outscored the favorites in the third and fourth quarters, but their current starting lineup appears to lack the necessary physicality. I'll ride with Denver to get to 15 first in the rematch.
More 3-pointers, LAL and DEN: DEN
The Lakers attempted the fifth-fewest triples per game during the regular season and have attempted the fourth-fewest this postseason. It's clear that this isn't a perimeter oriented team with Anthony Davis and LeBron James running the show on offense. The Nuggets aren't an elite team from beyond the arc, but do attempt long-range shots more frequently and have more efficient scorers from outside. Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr. are shooting better than 40 percent from 3 while attempting more than 3.0 shots from beyond the arc per contest in the playoffs. Austin Reaves is the only Laker making more than 2.0 shots per game from deep this postseason.
More rebounds, Rui Hachimura and Bruce Brown: Brown
Hachimura is the bigger man between these two bench players, but hasn't rebounded particularly well during the playoffs. He's tallied 3.3 rebounds per outing while Brown has notched 3.8. The Lakers might deploy Hachimura more moving forward to help on offense, but he's grabbed less than three rebounds in five straight games and didn't grab one despite playing 28 minutes in Game 1. Brown's been more consistent and has snared at least four boards in three consecutive contests.
Thursday DFS play
KCP is on a roll and seems determined to show out against his former team. He's been an important part of Denver's rotation lately and has now scored 21 points in 36 minutes in his past two outings. Caldwell-Pope's defensive impact shouldn't be underestimated, as he's logged at least a steal in 11 straight games and at least one block in three straight games. He and Brown could come close in Fantasy points, but KCP's workload and shot volume gives him an edge in my eyes