Game 1 of the 2023 Western Conference Finals is finally here. The Denver Nuggets are set to host the Los Angeles Lakers at Ball Arena on Monday. The top-seeded home team has an advantage over a road side that's fought through the play-in tournament to reach the third round. Whether this series winds up like the regular-season series remains to be seen. The NBA's daily pick 'em contest is offering up prizes for the most accurate contestants and we've evaluated three props for both teams alongside a premier DFS target ahead of tip-off. You can view the rest of the options here.
First to 15 points, LAL and DEN: DEN
I'll almost always lean toward the home team when it comes to this team prop. Both teams have strong defenses, but Denver can depend on reliable offenses from more places. All five of the Nuggets' starters and Bruce Brown are averaging at least 10 points per game this postseason. Nikola Jokic is averaging 30.7 points per game while Jamal Murray's thrived in his return to the big stage with 25.9 points per game this postseason. The Lakers' stars will have to be especially hot early to match that firepower.
More assists, LAL and DEN: DEN
Nikola Jokic and Murray are first and sixth on this postseason's assist leaderboard. The two-time MVP has dished out 107 dimes while Murray has tallied 71 of his own. While LeBron James is an elite playmaker, his assist numbers are down. The Lakers will likely need a massive road performance from D'Angelo Russell to match the most productive assist duo the playoffs have seen thus far. That doesn't seem likely after three consecutive outings with less than four assists.
More blocked shots, LAL and DEN: LAL
The Lakers remain the top shot blocking team in the playoffs. Anthony Davis has helped Los Angeles post an impressive 7.1 rejections per contest this postseason. Denver has plenty of length aside from Jokic but has totaled a mere 3.6 blocks per game. The Nuggets' stellar team defense doesn't rely on elite rim protection, so I'll back the Lakers here. Davis has recorded at least 23 more blocks than any other player left in the playoffs.
Monday DFS play
The three biggest names in this matchup will obviously get plenty of DFS consideration, but Murray might end up being the most important player to roster on Monday aside from Jokic. The Lakers have had a tough time guarding elite scoring guards this postseason, as Ja Morant and Stephen Curry each averaged more than 24.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists against Los Angeles. Murray's totaled more points, assists, and steals than LeBron James in one fewer game this postseason. The Nuggets point guard clearly feels he has something to prove, and he shouldn't have a problem doing that while attempting 20.7 shots per game.