LeBron James hasn’t been hiding his disappointment with the current Lakers roster, with the 38-year-old on a one-man mission to drag his team to the postseason in the absence Anthony Davis missing.
LeBron faces a huge test on Monday night, as he takes his Lakers side to the top side in the Western Conference – the Denver Nuggets.
While LeBron continues to impress, Nikola Jokic is making a strong case for his third consecutive MVP award. With two of the league’s stars in excellent form going into this one, expect a thrilling contest.
|What:||LA Lakers @ DEN Nuggets|
|Where:||Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado|
|When:||21:10 ET, Monday, 9th January 2023|
|How to watch:||NBA Pass, TNT|
|Odds:||LA Lakers +350, DEN Nuggets|
While the NBA is seeing a scoring explosion of late, LeBron remains one of the most consistent players in the league.
He’s effectively having to carry this Lakers team, who are now just half a game off the Play-in spots after a five-game winning run.
LeBron has played a key role for the Lakers of late, which likely played a part in him topping the first round of All-Star voting last week.
He’s scored at least 30 points in 10 of his last 13 appearances, including a 37-point haul in their weekend win over the Sacramento Kings.
Since Christmas, LeBron has also posted over 40 points twice, so he’s doing everything he can to make this team competitive.
The fact that the team’s front office isn’t doing their part has led to some reports that the 38-year-old is considering a summer trade as he looks to finish his stellar career in the league on a side which is capable of winning a championship.
In the short term, he’s doing all he can to ensure his team doesn’t miss out on the postseason yet again.
With the Lakers’ shooting issues and limited attacking options, they’ll need another big night from one of the game’s greats.
The Denver Nuggets have the Memphis Grizzlies right on their tail, so they can’t afford a slip against LeBron and co.
However, the hosts have rarely fallen short on their own court this term, as they’ve got a 16-3 record at Ball Arena.
Just three home losses is the lowest tally in the league right now, while they meet a Lakers side who have a 9-13 record on their travels.
However, the Nuggets need to be wary of facing the side with the second-longest win streak in the Conference.
The Nuggets are on a 10-0 run at home though, while they have a brilliant 18-9 record against sides who sit below .500.
They’ve also won eight of 12 meetings with sides who have a winning record, so they should expect to handle the Lakers even after the visitors’ recent turnaround in form.
As a result, the Nuggets are favourites going into this one, with the Lakers +350 outsiders.
Not only does this game have two star players in peak scoring form, but these two defences also look very beatable.
While the Nuggets lead the way in the West, they’ve been at their best going forward, with weaknesses at the other end of the court.
The Lakers' struggles also point to their own issues on the defensive end, while they’ve had few tests as severe as an away visit to the Nuggets.
Without the presence of AD, it’s hard to see any Laker who looks capable of stopping Jokic when he’s in full flow.
This is a clash between a Lakers side who are ranked 21st in defensive rating against a Nuggets team in 23rd.
When you consider that the pair concede a combined 227.6 points per 100 possessions, it’s little wonder that the points line for this one is set at 239.5.
While the Lakers are on a tear right now and scoring for fun, it’s difficult to see them keeping this game that close.
Four of their last five defeats have come by nine points or more and the quality of opposition takes a step up on Monday night, so look to a comfortable win for the Nuggets.