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Friday NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions for Spurs vs. Nuggets: Denver’s Value Depends on Jamal Murray (April 9)

Friday NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions for Spurs vs. Nuggets: Denver’s Value Depends on Jamal Murray (April 9) article feature image

Alex Menendez/Getty Images. Pictured: Jamal Murray of the Nuggets.

  • Denver is one of the hottest teams in the league, winners of 11 of its last 13 games.
  • San Antonio has only won two of its last 10 and has recently been biten by the injury bug.
  • Robert Arguello explains below why he likes the Nuggets to keep winning in Friday's game.

Spurs vs. Nuggets Odds

Spurs Odds+7
Nuggets Odds-7
Moneyline+225 / -278
TimeFriday, 9 p.m. ET
TVNBA League Pass
Odds as of Thursday and via DraftKings

The Nuggets host the Spurs Friday night in the second consecutive meeting between these teams. The Nuggets ended the third quarter on Wednesday with a 23-6 run and never looked back as they beat the Spurs 106-96.

After the first 38 games of the season, both of these teams had an identical 22-16 record. Since then, the Spurs and Nuggets have headed in opposite directions as the Spurs have lost eight of their last 10 games while the Nuggets have won 11 of their last 13.

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San Antonio Spurs

If the Spurs plan to cover or pull the upset, they will need to shoot the ball better than they have lately while playing with good ball movement and spacing offensively. Lonnie Walker IV (wrist) and Gorgui Dieng (shoulder) are questionable, while Trey Lyles (ankle) and Keita Bates-Diop (hamstring) are out on Friday.

The Spurs hung around with the Nuggets for the better part of three quarters on Wednesday in Denver, but the Nuggets pulled away late in the third quarter because the Spurs simply couldn’t make enough perimeter shots. The Spurs finished the game with 96 points as they made just 41.8% of their shots and 25.0% of their threes.

Poor three-point shooting on fewer attempts than their opponents has become a theme lately for the Spurs. Per Cleaning The Glass, the Spurs are attempting the third-fewest shots from beyond the arc this season (30.4% of attempts) while having the 19th-most accurate three-point shooting (connecting on 36.3% of threes).

Update on the Spurs' 3PT numbers through 49 games:

28th in attempts (29.3)
22nd in 3PT accuracy (35.5%)

30th in wide open three attempts (13.2)
29th in wide open 3PT accuracy (36.3%)

Notable: Lonnie Walker IV has missed 9 games in a row due to injury.

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) April 8, 2021

While Dejounte Murray and Derrick White are known primarily for their standout defense on and off the ball, the Spurs need them to take another step forward offensively, especially if Walker remains out with a wrist injury.

Both Murray and White are connecting on just 32% of their threes this season, which ranks in the 24th percentile or lower among their respective position groups (excluding garbage time). Consequently, they each rank in the 29th and 28th percentile in points per 100 shots on offense, as they haven’t efficiently made shots on the perimeter.

If the Spurs cover on Friday, they will need to be better from beyond the arc, while role players like Patty Mills and Rudy Gay — who have both been efficient three-point shooters this season — make timely shots. The Spurs’ bench, normally led by Mills, Gay, and Walker, has taken a step back recently during their skid over the last 10 games.

Denver Nuggets

If the Nuggets are to cover as home favorites, they need Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon to continue playing at a high level alongside MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic. Jamal Murray (knee) is questionable to play on Friday after missing Wednesday’s win against the Spurs.

Jokic is in the top tier of MVP candidates as he has been an unstoppable triple-double machine this season (averaging 26.3 points, 10.9 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game). Jokic is one of the best passing big men in the league’s history and is unguardable with his size and skill combination. He has been incredible this season leading the Nuggets in a myriad of statistical categories.

MPJ and Gordon will need to step up and be efficient as the top scoring options behind Jokic for the Nuggets to cover if Murray remains out. MPJ’s 131.8 points per 100 shots rank in the 95th percentile among forwards this season, per Cleaning The Glass.

MPJ has excelled at cutting without the ball as Jokic has fed him high-quality shot attempts this season. Check out this insightful article by The Action Network’s Matt Moore on how the addition of Gordon and the maturation of MPJ have taken the Nuggets’ offense to another level.

I wrote on the Nuggets with Aaron Gordon, an entirely different beast the West will have to deal with.

— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 8, 2021

New addition Aaron Gordon has also impressed as the Nuggets have won all seven games with him in the lineup, and they have covered in six of those seven wins. Gordon is playing with a lower usage rate than he was in Orlando, but he has been much more efficient when he touches the ball and is scoring at a higher rate per touch while dribbling less often.

He and MPJ’s efficiency on offense while playing without the ball in their hands is a big reason why the Nuggets have the best offense and the second-best point differential since the trade deadline, per Cleaning The Glass.

Spurs-Nuggets Pick

Expect the Spurs to hang with the Nuggets and give them their best shot in a competitive first half of the second straight game between these teams. The Spurs have length and athleticism on the defensive side of the ball to keep this game competitive, but ultimately, they don’t have the shooting to hang around with this Nuggets offense that is firing on all cylinders.

The value on the Nuggets will depend on the health of Jamal Murray’s knee. If he plays, I like the value on the Nuggets as seven-point favorites with value down to -9. However, if he is out, the Nuggets’ offense takes a step back without his shooting that spaces the floor for players like Jokic and Gordon.

If Murray remains out, I would either get them as 4.5-point favorites (or better) or wait to bet them on the live spread at the same number or better ( or on the live moneyline at -150 or better if the Spurs take a big enough lead) as there should be opportunities to get them at better value live in a competitive first half.

Pick: Bet on the Nuggets depending on Murray’s status

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