NBA playoffs, Lakers-Nuggets Game 2; LeBron player prop: Best Bets for May 18

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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) drives as Denver Nuggets guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) falls during the second half of Game 1 of the NBA basketball Western Conference Finals series, Tuesday, May 16, 2023, in Denver. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 132-126. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Thursday, May 18:

TOP PLAY

The play: NBA Western Conference Finals Game 2, Nuggets -5 over Lakers

The odds/bet: -108

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Our take: Sticking with our original thought that the Nuggets are the best team in basketball at the moment, and we think the first 43 minutes of Game 1 were no fluke.

The Lakers made a strong push in the final moments, which has Joe Q. Public thinking they have figured things out and will be able to win Game 2. However, the fact they had no answer for Nikola Jokic in the first half and still couldn’t find a strong enough run to realistically get back into it until late says they have major problems in this series.

While this series likely will be much more competitive in L.A., Denver simply is playing too consistently solid to do anything but bet on them here.

FIRST-HALF BET

The play: Lakers to win first half outright

The odds: +148

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Our take: OK, we understand this may sound counterintuitive, but there’s a good chance Los Angeles thinks they have figured things out enough to play exactly the opposite as they played in Game 1. Expect a major focus on Jokic early, which should keep this game very close early on.

While we think Denver’s depth, consistency and coaching will lead it to a big victory, it may take longer than we saw in Game 1.

LeBRON PLAYER PROP

The play: LeBron James over 6.5 assists

The odds: -120

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Our take: One thing we know is LeBron will be pulling out all the stops to win Game 2. While we don’t think he will be successful, we do think he will find every open player possible, and we do mean everyone.

Expect a ton of pass-offs from the King, and it wouldn’t surprise us at all if he has this one won by halftime.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Wednesday’s best bets

NBA playoffs: Heat +8.5 over Celtics (WON)

PGA Championship: Xander Schauffele to finish in the top 20 (PENDING)

Wednesday’s record: 1-0, 1 pending

Total for the week: 3-1, 1 pending

Total for May: 18-14, 1 pending

Total for 2023: 106-119, 1 pending

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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