Los Angeles might be without Kobe again, but can the Lakers still come away with a win and a cover against the Denver Nuggets at the Staples Center tonight? Find out why the Nuggest have made their way into our NBA picks tonight.

Two teams still battling for key playoff seeds face off tonight as the Nuggets head out farther west to play the Lakers. NBA odds makers had opened the Lakers as a 4 point favorite, and while this doesn’t sound so far fetched, there is one problem. The problem is that Kobe Bryant remains on the injury list and he is looking like a game time decision, and if I had to guess, I can’t see him playing. Kobe has been playing 38-40 minutes a game all season, and if any super star in the league needs a rest, it’s Bryant.

Even with this being the case, NBA picks are still coming in on the Lakers, and early sports betting action has actually extended the spread to 4.5 and even 5 points at some NBA bettingshops. Can the Lakers still take care of business without their black mamba?

Lakers, resting or reeling?

Kobe BryantThe Lakers had a great win against the Spurs this past Wednesday. This was their 5th win in their last seven games. However, they are only one game up on their rival the Clippers for the 3rd seed and the Pacific division with only a few weeks left.

I don’t think playoff seeding means much to the Lakers, as they believe they can beat anyone in a seven game series no matter where they are seeded. However, I believe that it means something. If the Lakers stay in the 3rd seed, they potentially play Dallas in the first round. Kobe will have a fire burning in his eyes to play the Mavs. If the Clippers over take them for the 3rd seed, that will mean that the Lakers would have to potentially play Memphis in the first round, which is extremely dangerous for LA. 

However, only 4 ½ games separate seeds three through eight right now in the Western Conference, so speculation on playoff seeding will be changing with every passing game. The question tonight is, can the Lakers be good enough without Kobe to beat and cover against the Nuggets? I believe it’s going to be a tall order.

Nuggets: Grizzlies of 2012?

I’m not saying that Denver has the ability to handily beat the Thunder or the Spurs in the first round, but I am saying they are good enough to give anyone a tough seven game series. The Nuggets score the ball incredibly effectively, and with the return of Danillo Gallanari, they finally have their number one scoring option back in the starting lineup.

Danillio GallinariGallo has played two games after breaking his thumb, and he has played well in both, scoring 15 and 18 points in both. Gallo was huge in the fourth quarter of their game against the Wolves on Wednesday, and if he continues to play well tonight, I think the Nuggets have a chance to pull off an upset. 

The Nuggets also have incredible front court depth. They have five different guys they can throw at Andrew Bynum defensively, and all five of them can foul him enough and put his 68% free throw percentage to the test. 

The Sharp Pick

The Lakers are only 2-10 ATS in their last twelve games overall, and they are only 3-6-1 ATS in their last ten games against the Nuggets. Even though the Lakers are 18-4 SU in their last 22 games at home against Denver, they are only 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven games playing the Nuggets from Staples Center. 

This will be the fourth time these two have played one another this season. The Lakers have won two of the three, but the two that they have won; they only won by 3 and 4 points. These two teams match up well against one another, and while the Lakers don’t really care about their seeding, the Nuggets are fighting for their playoff lives. I see a Laker win, but a Nugget cover tonight.

My Pick: Nuggets +5