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Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers NBA Odds, Picks: Bet Denver to Snap the Skid

Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers NBA Odds, Picks: Bet Denver to Snap the Skid article feature image
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Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets and Jusuf Nurkic #27 of the Portland Trail Blazers.

  • The Trail Blazers host the Nuggets on Thursday night.
  • Damian Lillard is back in the mix, but our expert is still backing Denver.
  • Chris Baker breaks down the game and explains his pick below.

Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers Odds

Nuggets Odds -1
Trail Blazers Odds +1
Over/Under 227.5 (-108/-112)
Time 10:10 p.m. ET
TV NBA TV
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Denver Nuggets are on the road in Portland to face their division rival Trail Blazers once again. The Nuggets have dropped three games in a row, most recently to the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday, while the Blazers are riding a two-game winning streak and have their superstar, Damian Lillard back in the lineup.

Can the Nuggets snap their three game losing streak? Or will Lillard continue to haunt the Nuggets as he did in the first matchup between these teams?

Let’s see who has the edge.

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Nuggets Need More From the Bench

The Nuggets have been one of the most inconsistent teams to begin the season and that continued on Monday night where they lost outright at home to the Mavericks. Perhaps this inconsistency should be unsurprising given how much variance they have between the starting lineup and the bench.

The Nuggets have one of the biggest Net Rating disparities between their starters and their bench, most notably around their best player. Nikola Jokic has a league-best +29.0 Net Rating differential, according to Cleaning the Glass. The next closest player in Net-Rating swing is Draymond Green with a +24.4.

Their bench struggles shouldn’t be illuminated in this matchup with the Trail Blazers as Portland doesn’t have a ton of talented bench depth either. The first matchup between these teams saw the starters get cooked with Jokic actually losing his minutes by double digits (-10). I’d expect the Nuggets to be much better even without sharpshooter Michael Porter Jr. this time around.

The Nuggets should improve here based off of simple regression from the Trail Blazers. Portland had an extreme outlier offensive performance that saw them shoot 68% effectively from the field and score 145.2 points per 100 possessions. Both of these marks rank above the 97th percentile in offensive efficiency and should be difficult to replicate.

Offensively, the Nuggets should positively regress on their initial performance against the Blazers. The Nuggets were extremely effective at getting to the rim, taking 45% of their shot attempts at the rim (92nd percentile), but those shots weren’t falling as they shot just 68.6% at the rim and 27.8% from midrange.

You’d have to expect those numbers to positively regress as the nuggets have been one of the more efficient teams from the field; ranking fifth in rim accuracy, 15th in midrange, and second in 3-point accuracy. The Nuggets offensive process was good in the first matchup they just shot below their averages and I expect that to regress.

The Nuggets should also get a more aggressive Jokic in this one as he took four shots in the first matchup. An aggressive Jokic is a scary sight for an opposing defense and I expect him to assert himself more in this rematch between rivals.


Trail Blazers Are Dangerous With Lillard Healthy

The Blazers (13-11 straight up and 15-9 against the spread) have been impressive to their season with the 15th-ranked Adjusted Net Rating through 24 games. They’ve been resilient despite facing multiple injuries to key players and having to play the NBA’s seventh-most difficult schedule up to this point in the season. Portland is finally starting to get healthy as Lillard returned to the lineup on Sunday. His impact was felt immediately: Lillard shot 5-of-10 from deep and was a +30 in game the Blazers won by 16 points.

The Blazers are an entirely different team with Lillard as he massively elevates their offensive floor and ceiling. He has a +7.6 Net Rating and has been particularly impactful on the offensive end where the Trail Blazers average 5.3 more points per 100 possessions with him on the floor and Portland’s Rim and 3-Point rates both increase drastically. That should pose issues for this Denver team that has struggled to defend the 3-point line — 19th in Opponent 3-Point Frequency and 26th in corner 3-Point Frequency.

We saw their lackadaisical perimeter defense rear its head against the Mavericks on Tuesday, they allowed the Mavs to take 46% of their shots from deep and 18% of their shots from the corners. Dallas shot 50% on those 3s and Dorian Finney-Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr.  made 11 of their 17 3s.

Lillard and the Blazers are more than capable of exploiting this: In the first matchup between these two, Portland shot 39% of their attempts from deep and connected on half of them. The Nuggets will have to clean this up if they want to have a chance of winning on the road on Thursday night.

Nuggets-Trail Blazers Pick

I think the Nuggets have improved since the first matchup between these two and I have to back them at this price. Denver should play with much more urgency off of three straight losses and they do have a decided advantage down-low at the rim.

The Trail Blazers have been awful defending the rim and just allowed the Pacers to shoot 46% of their shots at the rim in their most recent game. Indiana doesn’t even attack the rim as much as the nuggets who rank eighth in rim rate and I expect Jokic, Aaron Gordon, and Jamal Murray to have a field day attacking the rim and drawing fouls.

The Nuggets are a team that I want to be backing when they are motivated and I think they will come out with urgency in this one. Back the Nuggets on the moneyline at -115 or better on Thursday night.

Pick: Nuggets Moneyline (Play to -115)


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