NBA Playoffs - Game 1
L.A. Lakers +6 -101 over Denver

Posted at 1:15 PM EST. Odds subject to change.

Pinnacle  +6 -101 BET365 +6 -110 Sportsinteraction +6 -110 888Sport +6 -110

L.A. Lakers +6 over Denver

10:30 PM EST. There are many moving parts here in this Western Conference Final, so we'll start with the #1-seeded Nuggets, who are led by perennial MVP candidate Nikola Jokic. The Joker is great, one of the best this league has to offer. Hell, there are many calls today from the talking heads that Jokic should have been the MVP over Joel Embiid, in light of the Sixers getting blasted in Game 7 in Boston, but it's important to remember that while the media drives the narrative in the market, it's our job to acknowledge and attack the market inefficiencies those "hot takes" present.

To get here, the Nuggets made quick work of the Timberwolves, knocking out Minnesota in five games. Denver then battled Kevin Durant and the Suns, taking out Phoenix in six games, winning Game 5, 118-102, and Game 6, 125-100. The Nuggets have covered in all but one of their six home playoff games, including blowing out the Suns by double digits in each of the three games they played in Denver.

Now to the Play-In Lakers, who knocked off Minnesota in a one-game showdown for the right to play the #2-seeded Grizzlies in Round 1. LeBron James and company caught the Grizz when they were at their most vulnerable in the aftermath of the Ja Morant gun story (that won't go away), where he and their heads were not in the games. Next up was the defending champion Warriors, whom the Lakers also knocked off in six games. That series was a great example of why one cannot predict the outcomes of these games, as the "in-game" variance was off the charts. The Lakers got the calls, and the Warriors did not.

That brings us to this series, but rather than try to break down the X's and O's (you'll get plenty of that elsewhere), we are going to focus on what matters most: money. The NBA is in the market for a new big-money TV deal, and we're not saying that the fix is in to make sure we get a classic Lakers/Celtics matchup in The Finals, but that matchup would garner the highest ratings by far, and therefore the most money possible come negotiation time. Full offense to the Nuggets and Heat, but the ratings for such a final would be death when compared to the rating bonanza that the Lakers/Celtics would be.

Now, of course, we'd never suggest the fix was in, but we are merely pointing out that if one follows the money, one will find the answers they seek. Additionally, one cannot predict when or where those bounces will go, so we are just going with the best of it here.

Finally, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that this line moved on the news that both James and Anthony Davis were on the injury report. Those guys have been playing hurt all season, and if there was actually any chance they were not going to play, the line would have reflected that. Rarely do oddsmakers get caught with their pants down unless there is a very late scratch in warm-ups. The opening line where L.A. was a +4½-point underdog suggested that the books give them a damn good chance to win this game. However, we're going to put this nice pile of inflated points in our back pockets and hope that we don't need them.

Finnie

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Our Pick

L.A. Lakers +6 -101 (Risking 2.02 units - To Win: 2.00)

Dallas/Minnesota under 207 +102