Nuggets-Thunder Betting Preview: Can Denver Cover on the Road?

Nuggets-Thunder Betting Preview: Can Denver Cover on the Road? article feature image

Photo credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Nikola Jokic

Betting odds: Denver Nuggets at Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Spread: Thunder -6
  • Over/Under: 216.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

>> All odds as of noon ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets

After struggling for several weeks, the 12-7 Denver Nuggets have won two straight. Can they make it three in a row on the road against a 12-6 Oklahoma City Thunder squad playing well right now? Our analysts dive in and answer.

Moore: What I’m Watching For Tonight

Denver’s offense continues to operate in starts and fizzles, but this should be a great game. OKC showed last year it’s vulnerable to what the Nuggets bring to the table.

  • Steven Adams is having the most underrated season in the league. He’s averaging 16-11 on 62% shooting with one block per game and a 22 PER. The Thunder are +12.2 per 100 possessions with him on the floor and -7.7 with him on the bench. He’s fifth in screen assists per game, 10th in deflections among centers and overall just playing phenomenally. This is a tough matchup for Nikola Jokic, but the Nuggets’ guards have had success against him on switches in years past.
  • Gary Harris is shooting 33% from 3-point range. It’s pretty evident he’s not healthy, and it’s impacting a lot with him. He’s shooting more, but it’s mostly off the bounce instead of cuts from Jokic. Teams have done a lot to contain the Jokic-Harris DHO and it’s causing issues.
  • The Nuggets are 8-1 when they have fewer turnovers than their opponent. Or, they are 3-6 when they have more turnovers. The Thunder are the second-best team in the league at forcing turnovers. That’s a problem. — Matt Moore

Locky: Why I’m Betting the Nuggets

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday and the way the NBA schedules around it, both teams are actually on identical rest situations: Each is playing its fourth game in six days and the second game of a back-to-back. Denver obviously has to travel for this one and Oklahoma City does not, which is the only difference in the schedules.

What is interesting is the nature of the game each team played last night. Oklahoma City struggled a little to put away Charlotte and ended up having to play a small rotation really heavy minutes. All five starters played 30-plus minutes, Russell Westbrook played almost 35 and Paul George went almost 38.

Meanwhile, Denver easily dispatched Orlando, and only Jamal Murray logged heavy minutes. Travel and schedule (in general) are obviously always baked into a number, but the fact that Denver comes in slightly more rested may have some value.

Part of the reason the Thunder played their starters heavy minutes? They don’t have a lot of depth right now, and they’re especially thin at shooting guard. Andre Roberson, Hamidou Diallo and Terrance Ferguson are all out, and this was a team that didn’t have a great bench anyway. Deonte Burton played 21 minutes last night, the most of any bench player. The only bench player with a positive plus-minus was Alex Abrines (+1 in seven minutes).

Denver, on the other hand, is not unusually deep, but the emergence of Monte Morris as a viable bench player, to go along with Mason Plumlee and even Trey Lyles, should give them some options for the parts of the game when the starters rest.

Denver should have an advantage in these periods, and I’d find it unlikely the Thunder’s starters’ minutes stay the same or go up in such an obvious fatigue situation. When removing home-court advantage, and with the state of each team right now, I’d say there’s at least a point or two of value on Denver at +5.5 in this game considering those angles. — Ken Barkley

Betting Trends to Know

In 2018, it has been a real reverse in pace of play and totals for Denver away from the Pepsi Center. On the road this season, the under is 6-1-1, going under the total by 11.8 PPG. Under bettors have made 4.7 units, making Denver the most-profitable road team to the under in the NBA.

In the three seasons before this, the Nuggets went 67-53-3 (55.8%) to the over on the road, profiting bettors 10.2 units; they were the third-most profitable team in the NBA in this spot.

Did you know? This is a unique situation for Thunder coach Billy Donovan. He’s been the head coach since 2015-16, and this will be the first time Oklahoma City will play a home-and-home back-to-back, facing the Hornets on Friday night and the Nuggets on Saturday. — Evan Abrams

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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