The Denver Nuggets completed a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers to win the Western Conference and secure a spot in the 2023 NBA Finals.
The Nuggets are four more wins away from winning their first-ever NBA championship. They eagerly await the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Miami Heat are on a verge of a sweep themselves, and currently have a 3-0 lead against the Boston Celtics heading into Game 4 tonight in Miami.
In Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, the Nuggets erased a 15-point deficit to win 113-111. The Nuggets withstood a 40-point performance from banged-up superstar LeBron James, who missed a final shot to send the game into overtime. James was so downtrodden about the sweep that he mulled over retirement in the post-game press conference.
The Nuggets were the longest-standing franchise that had never reached the NBA Finals. The former ABA team entered the NBA in 1976. It took the Nuggets 46 seasons before they qualified for their first visit to the NBA Finals.
Another Triple-Double for Jokic
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid won his first regular-season MVP award, and denied Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic a third-straight MVP. Jokic, commonly referred to as the Joker by his teammates, got the last laugh when he led the Nuggets to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
Jokic secured unanimous MVP honors in the Western Conference Finals by averaging 27.8 points, 14.5 rebounds, and 11.8 rebounds per game against the Lakers. He connected on an impressive 47.1% of his 3-point attempts.
Jokic scored a layup with 51 seconds remaining to break a 111-111 tie in Game 4.
You don’t care about how tired you are, you don’t care about minutes, your fouls, shots, percentage, this and that,” said Jokic. “You just want to win a game, and you’re trying to win a game.”
Jokic finished the series-clinching victory with 30 points, 14 rebounds, and 13 assists. He tallied a triple-double for the third time in the four-game series. It also represented his eighth triple-double of this year’s playoffs. He broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record for most triple-doubles in a single postseason.
The Nuggets secured the #1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a 53-29 record in the regular season. They defeated the #8 Minnesota Timberwolves in five games in the opening round. In the second round, the Nuggets picked off the #4 Phoenix Suns in a series that many pundits expected to the Suns would win.
The Nuggets squared off against the #7 Lakers in the conference finals. Although the Nuggets were a slight favorite entering the series at -150 odds, very few thought the Lakers would get swept in four games.
“It’s incredible,” said shooting guard Jamal Murray. “Lot of fun. It’s surreal. We’re going to keep making history, that’s the thing. We’re going to keep that mindset.”
Betting the Nuggets: Tracking Title Odds
When the season began, the Nuggets were +1800 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA championship. They were the sixth-highest team on DraftKings’ futures board, and the fourth-highest team from the Western Conference.
The defending champion Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers were consensus cofavorites to win the championship at +600 odds. Even the Phoenix Suns had better preseason odds than the Nuggets at +1200.
At no time during the regular season did the Nuggets ever reach higher than third overall on the futures board to win the championship. Their best price during the regular season was +700 odds prior to the trade deadline in early February.
After the Phoenix Suns acquired Kevin Durant in a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, the Suns saw their title odds jump from +1800 to +450. The Suns were the popular pick to win the Western Conference, and the Nuggets became an afterthought.
The Nuggets sized first place in the Western Conference in late December and never relinquished the top spot. They stumbled into the postseason losing six out of eight games, but head coach Michael Malone was trying to rest his starters in preparation for the postseason.
When the postseason began, the Nuggets were +1100 odds to win the championship. Even though the Nuggets were the top seed in the west, six other teams had shorter odds including the #4 Suns at +425 and #6 Warriors at +950 odds.
The Nuggets are now priced at -280 odds to win the championship. Jokic is the consensus favorite to win the 2023 NBA Finals MVP at -230 odds, followed by teammates Murray (+1200), Michael Porter, Jr. (+14000), and Aaron Gordon (+14000). Jimmy Butler from the Miami Heat is currently +300 odds to win the NBA Finals MVP.
The Nuggets have a 53-43-1 betting record against the point spread (ATS), which includes the regular season and the playoffs.
In 15 postseason games, the Nuggets posted a 9-6 ATS record. They were an underdog in the last two games against the Lakers, and won both games outright.
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