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Lakers vs. Nuggets predictions: Three player props to bet in Game 2

The Nuggets welcome the Lakers to Denver for Game 2, so we highlight two player props for Friday's contest.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 28: Rui Hachimura #28 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the first half against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on January 28, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 28: Rui Hachimura #28 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the first half against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on January 28, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)Read moreMaddie Meyer / Getty Images

Denver took Game 1, but a late-game surge by L.A. has inspired me to share a pair of Lakers vs. Nuggets predictions for Game 2.

These two players have stepped up throughout the Lakers’ playoff run, and I’m banking on them continuing to contribute (in certain areas) in a potential bounce-back win.

Odds courtesy of BetMGM, current at time of writing and subject to change.

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Lakers vs. Nuggets Best Prop Bet No. 1

Rui Hachimura over 16.5 points + rebounds + assists (-115)

The key to the Lakers’ Game 1 comeback was switching Rui Hachimura onto Nikola Jokic. While Hachimura isn’t a defensive stalwart, his different skillset was somewhat effective on Denver’s big man.

At the minimum, the adjustment gave the Lakers a different defensive look and gave the Nuggets trouble. So, there’s no reason for head coach Darvin Ham to move away from this strategy yet.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see coach Ham lean into the adjustment. There are rumors that Hachimura will be in the starting lineup for Game 2.

Either way, I expect more minutes and involvement from Hachimura in this one. He played 28 minutes last night, the most during this playoff run since Game 4 against Memphis, and chalked up 18 PRA.

However, I wouldn’t just expect Hachimura to stand around in front of Jokic. He’s been a sparkplug for the Lakers during this playoff run, and his high-energy style of play can be high-impact.

So, instead, I expect Hachimura to get more minutes and be productive in those minutes, stuffing the stat sheet.

The Action Labs Player Props Tool projects Hachimura for 17.6 PRA in Game 2, so I feel good about the number we’re catching at BetMGM.

» READ MORE: Bet on Carolina to score multi-goal win in Game 1 vs. Panthers

Lakers vs. Nuggets Best Prop Bet No. 2

Anthony Davis over 3.5 steals + blocks (-125)

The Lakers’ adjustments didn’t work because Hachimura was on Jokic. Instead, they worked because Anthony Davis was free to roam the paint and be a defensive menace.

With Hachimura on Jokic, Davis can protect the rim, provide help defense and even be the second guy double-teaming Jokic. Given how versatile, athletic and smart Davis is on the defensive end, he’s pretty effective in this role.

Guarding Jokic requires 100% effort and attention, and it actually limits Davis’ potential impact on that end of the floor.

So, now that Davis is all freed up, it’s time to target his defensive props.

Let’s target steals + blocks because Davis is already cooking the number available. Davis has chased over 3.5 stocks in 11 of his 14 playoff games this season, including picking up five in Game 1 (even when he was mostly guarding Jokic).

Over 3.5 stocks (-125) was already too low, and Davis’ upside is now much higher. So, backing Davis in this market is a must for Game 2.

» READ MORE: Victor Wembanyama is the heavy favorite to go No. 1 to the Spurs. Who will be the second pick?

Lakers vs. Nuggets Best Prop Bet No. 3

Austin Reaves over 1.5 3PM (-155)

Austin Reaves continues to shine bright during this playoff run. It’s been very profitable to look his way in the player prop market, and it’s been that way since about mid-March.

I am worried about Hachimura’s increased minutes pulling time away from Reaves, so I had to adjust my read on his role for Game 2.

Reaves was effective on the court in Game 1, and I noticed he found some great spot-up opportunities (off LeBron James and others). As a result, Reaves picked up nine 3-point attempts and drained five.

So, I dug into Reaves’ shooting some more.

Per ShotQuality, Reaves ranks in the 75th percentile of players in catch-and-shoot 3-point points per possession (PPP), with 1.13, and in the 81st percentile in off-the-dribble 3-point PPP (1.12). Since his breakout on March 1, Reaves is shooting over 42% from 3 (33-game sample size).

During this playoff run, Reaves has cashed over 1.5 3-pointers in seven of his past 10, including four straight games. He’s averaging over five 3-point attempts per game (13-game sample size).

Even if Reaves’ minutes and overall impact are limited, he’s too effective of a spot-up shooter to keep him off the floor. So, if someone like Hachimura, Davis or James were to drive and kick, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the ball fly into Reaves’ hands.

Look for Reaves to bury a few more long-range attempts in Game 2.

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