The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 110-106 in the play-in tournament on Tuesday night to secure the No. 7 seed in a first-round playoff matchup with the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets.

However, the Lakers are 0-4 in their last four regular-season meetings with Denver and 0-8 with playoff games counted. Their most recent victory against the Nuggets was a 126-108 win at Arena on Dec. 16, 2022.

Per multiple NBA betting sites, the Lakers hold seventh-best odds to win the championship. Sportsbooks are showing better odds for the Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, and Los Angeles Clippers.

Los Angeles is 0-5 in its past five matchups at Ball Arena with the Nuggets. Not only that, but Denver is 9-2 in its previous 11 home games and 33-8 at home for the season as well.

The Lakers had to win 12 out of their last 15 games just to face the Pelicans in the play-in tournament. NBA insiders reported Tuesday that Los Angeles was planning to intentionally lose to New Orleans in order to avoid playing Denver in the first round.

Los Angeles Lakers could have faced Oklahoma City Thunder in first round with loss to New Orleans Pelicans

Had the Lakers lost Tuesday in New Orleans, it would have set up a one-game elimination matchup on Friday between them and the Sacramento Kings. The winner of that game would have earned the No. 8 seed to play against the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round.

The Nuggets swept the Lakers in last year’s Western Conference Finals. When asked about the alleged strategy, Lakers coach Darvin Ham couldn’t help but laugh after one reporter asked him if the report was true.

“There was a report of what?” Ham replied. “Insane asylum sources say?”

Ham told his players in the locker room after the win, “We want all the smoke and we ain’t ducking no fades.”

Lakers star LeBron James only praised the Nuggets when asked about the first-round matchup.

“It’s the defending champion,” James said. “They know what it takes. They know how to win. Nuggets been extremely dominant on their home floor over the last few years. They’ve got an MVP on their team. They’ve got a closer on their team. And they’ve got high-level players, high-IQ players. They’ve got a hell of a coach.

“So, we have to play mistake-free basketball. Make it tough on them. They’re going to try to make it tough on us, obviously. But if we can play as great of a game as we can play, and they’re going to play as great of a game as they play, it’s going come down to one or two possessions. And we’ll see who executes then.”

NBA sportsbooks show the Lakers as 7-point underdogs at Denver on Saturday. Per ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, the Nuggets hold a 68.6% chance of defeating Los Angeles in Game 1.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here