The Daily Sweat: Nuggets look to sweep Lakers for their first NBA Finals berth

You wouldn't think the Los Angeles Lakers are completely dead this postseason, but the history says otherwise.

It wouldn't be that weird to concoct a story in which the Lakers, down 3-0 to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals, get back in the series. They'd have to win on Monday night, but they're favored to do so. Then the Lakers would need to win Game 5 in Denver, but they did cover both games there to start the series (or pushed Game 1, depending on when you bet them). Then it would be back to Los Angeles for Game 6, where they'd presumably be favored again. And anything can happen in Game 7.

But that type of scenario has never played out in the NBA. Before the conference finals this year, 149 teams had taken a 3-0 lead in a series, and all 149 had won the series. The Lakers' climb starts on Monday night, though they are 3-point favorites over the Nuggets at BetMGM.

The Lakers' biggest problem this series, and in their comeback hopes, is the Nuggets have been the better team. Nikola Jokic is taking his legacy to a new level this postseason, Jamal Murray has been scalding hot and everyone else around them is doing their part. It's not a new thing; the Nuggets have been good all season. They haven't started to get their proper respect until now, when they're -225 favorites to win the NBA championship. The Nuggets have never even been to an NBA Finals before.

The question for Monday is if the Lakers can keep the series going for at least one more game. Nothing in the series really justifies the Lakers being 3-point favorites for Game 4. They know the history of teams down 0-3 in a series. Whether the Lakers cover on Monday night comes down to whether the Nuggets let down after one of the biggest wins in franchise history in Game 3.

History says that at some point the Nuggets will close out the series. The Lakers are +1400 to win the series if you believe otherwise. It doesn't seem like a great investment.

Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets have a 3-0 series lead on the Lakers. (AP Foto/Mark J. Terrill)
Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets have a 3-0 series lead on the Lakers. (AP Foto/Mark J. Terrill)

Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Monday:

Panthers look to go up 3-0

The Miami Heat aren't the only South Florida team having an incredible playoff run. The Florida Panthers won a pair of overtime road games against the Carolina Hurricanes and come home with a 2-0 series lead. The Panthers are a slight -115 favorite for Monday's Game 3. Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has been phenomenal this series. The Hurricanes might already be done after dropping the first two games of the series at home, but losing Game 3 could really be a death knell.

MLB has 12 games

The best game on Monday in Major League Baseball happens in Milwaukee, where the Houston Astros go for their eighth straight win against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Astros aren't a big favorite at just -115, and the odds are close to even because the Brewers have former Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes on the mound. The Astros' starter is Cristian Javier, a very good pitcher who has been excellent in his past six starts. Burnes has not been dominant most of this season (3.48 ERA with a strikeout rate that is well down from the past two seasons) and it's probably smart to take the Astros when they're not laying too much juice.

What's the best bet?

I don't see why the Nuggets are 3-point underdogs. They have had letdowns before when they've been well ahead — they had some ugly losses in the last month of the regular season after it was clear they'd be the No. 1 seed in the West, and they dropped Game 4 of the first round at the Minnesota Timberwolves after being up 3-0 — but this time feels different. The Nuggets have a lot of confidence and the Lakers know they're in a lot of trouble. I'll take the Nuggets and the points, and a +135 moneyline bet is fine as well.