Saturday NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions: Nuggets vs. Clippers Betting Preview (May 1)
Justin Tafoya/Getty Images. Pictured: Denver Nuggets G Shaquille Harrison
Nuggets vs. Clippers Odds
|Moneyline||+160 / -190|
|Time||Saturday, 9 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via BetMGM NJ|
The Clippers will say they’re past it. That they don’t think of it. That this is a new year with a new coach and some new players, and nothing is like it was in that quarantined basketball dungeon beset by palm trees and closed gift shops in Orlando.
But somewhere, deep in the cockles of their hearts, the Clippers know that the Denver Nuggets beat them last year, straight up. No devastating star injuries. No random twists of unforeseeable fate. The Nuggets went down double digits in Games 5, 6, and 7 vs. the title-favorite Los Angeles Clippers, and simply did not blink.
There’s baggage here. So is there value?
No Jamal Murray.
No Monte Morris.
No Will Barton.
The Nuggets. Do Not. Stop.
Denver is now 8-1 since Murray suffered that devastating ACL injury which ended Denver’s hopes of a playoff run in many people’s minds. They are 13-3 in April (7-9 ATS) and 25-6 since Feb. 27.
They’re down three of their top-8 rotation players, all guards, and yet somehow just keep finding ways to win behind Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr, with a revived bench unit playing incredible defense with a cast of characters found off the street.
The Clippers present specific problems, but without Kawhi Leonard, they are more manageable.
The Clippers are without Serge Ibaka, and even if he played, the same thing remains true year over year: they have no one to stop Jokic. Ivica Zubac has his moments, and if he wins the matchup, the Clippers are going to cover easily. However, the more likely scenario involves the smell of barbecue chicken.
The real problem is depth. Even without Leonard and Ibaka, the Nuggets have gotten away with games because their bench has played all-world defense. However, the Clippers, in the last 10 games (most without Leonard), have the third-best offensive bench unit in the league.
So if the Nuggets starting unit is hampered by injuries and their bench can’t take advantage, who comes out on top?
Los Angeles Clippers
No Kawhi Leonard, again for the Clippers and Serge Ibaka continues to make progress.
The Clippers will use Zubac to try and 1) contain Jokic without doubling and 2) draw fouls on him . You should bet on Jokic in those situations. Just because Montrezl Harrell was worse last year doesn’t mean that Zubac guarded Jokic well, or even if then numbers say he did, this Jokic is even better.
However, Paul George is the saving grace. Specifically, the Nuggets’ defensive scheme in pick and rolls is to put two on-ball. But George can pass over those double teams. The Nuggets’ scheme is where George has been his most efficient this season per Second Spectrum. Expect a monster PG game.
There’s slight value on the Nuggets. They’ve been underrated with all their injuries and much of what they do won’t be stopped by the Clippers. However, the better value is on the total.
Denver is a slow team this season. There’s a strong possibility that the Clippers blow them out and the Nuggets put up a paltry number as Jokic can’t make them pay for their extra help passing to PJ Dozier and Facu Campazzo.
There’s also a good chance in the Nuggets’ defense holding up, as they have given up just 87.7 points per 100 possessions with Paul Millsap on the floor since the Murray injury.
I like the under on this game, and the under specifically in the second quarter.
Pick: Under 223.5