Nuggets vs. Clippers NBA Odds & Picks: Back Denver With Aaron Gordon (Thursday, April 1)
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Gordon of the Denver Nuggets.
- It's only been two games, but the Nuggets have looked even better with the acquisition of Aaron Gordon.
- The Clippers are coming off a loss to Gordon's former team and are missing several players.
- Joe Dellera explains why he likes Denver to get the job done on Thursday.
Nuggets vs. Clippers Odds
|Moneyline||-105 / -115|
|Time||Thursday, 10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday and via BetMGM|
The new-look Denver Nuggets take on the Clippers in Los Angeles Thursday. Aaron Gordon’s former team, the Orlando Magic, just dispatched of the Clippers, and now he looks to duplicate that effort with his new squad.
These are two of the Western Conference’s best with just two games separating the third place Clippers and fifth place Nuggets. This should be an excellent showdown on national television, and with a 1-point spread in the game, we can expect this one to be tight down the stretch.
Let’s take a look at both teams and see where we can find some betting value.
The Nuggets have now won three games in a row, and they are just one game back in the loss column of the third spot in the West and four back of second place. They’ve improved with the acquisition of Gordon as well, and it is already paying dividends.
This is obviously a small sample size — just two games and 88 possessions for Gordon — but when he’s been on the floor the Nuggets are a whopping +42 points per 100 possessions. They have a 64.9% eFG% on offense and have limited their opponents to a 49.4% eFG% on defense. These marks are all in the top three precent of all lineups in the league, per Cleaning the Glass.
Gordon can play the four, and that dramatically changes the Nuggets’ defensive look. He can cover wings on the perimeter and help to limit 3-point shots while also being disruptive enough on the interior. The Nuggets are now able to switch more than before, which adds a new level of versatility.
While this could pay dividends in the playoffs, on a night-to-night basis it allows them to adapt to whatever style their opponent is playing. Gordon’s versatility from the forward position will be invaluable to the Nuggets, so long as he understands he is not the primary scorer.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are a bit banged up heading into tonight’s contest. They will remain without Paul George (foot), Patrick Beverley (knee), Serge Ibaka (back), and Rajon Rondo (adductor) for Thursday’s game and Marcus Morris (calf) is questionable.
When the Clippers lost on Tuesday, they were missing all five of those players, and they played with a short eight-man rotation. If these players miss again, expect to see increased usage from Kawhi Leonard and Reggie Jackson.
The Clippers are very thin right now, and while they beat the Bucks on Monday night, they really just shot the lights out hitting 55.9% of their 3-pointers. When George, Beverley and Ibaka are all off the floor, the Clippers just don’t have much offense outside of Leonard and Morris.
If Morris doesn’t play and Leonard is left alone, there are not nearly enough players who can create for themselves. While Luke Kennard and Nick Batum are great spot up shooters, they do not have the same ability to score off the dribble or play in isolation.
The Clippers have played just 251 possessions this season without George, Beverley, Ibaka, Morris and Lou Williams (now traded,) and they are -18.2 points per 100 possessions. They cannot score, and they certainly cannot play defense.
I think the Clippers are being overvalued in the market right now because they had won six in a row prior to their collapse against the Magic, and they even defeated the Bucks handily without George. However, this team’s strength of 3-point shooting can be neutralized by this new look Nuggets team that has allowed opponents to shoot just 32.3% from deep with Gordon on the floor.
It’s always tough to pit yourself against Kawhi, but the Nuggets have an improved roster with Gordon, and the MVP favorite in Nikola Jokic who should roast Ivica Zubac.
I’d love to see this matchup with two fully healthy teams, but given the Nuggets’ success so far with Gordon and the Clippers’ limited rotation, I’ll back Denver to improve on their 15-9 road record.
Pick: Nuggets +1 (like to -2)