Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions: Will Denver Fix Its Maddening Inconsistency?

Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions: Will Denver Fix Its Maddening Inconsistency? article feature image

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap (4), Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside (21).

  • The Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets meet on Thursday, Dec. 12 and the updated betting odds show the Nuggets as the favorite (spread: Nuggets -7) with the over/under at 216.
  • The over has gotten some betting action throughout the day, rising from an opener of 214.
  • Our experts breakdown the matchup in full and give their favorite betting picks and predictions for Blazers-Nuggets.

Trail Blazers at Nuggets Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Spread: Nuggets -7
  • Over/Under: 216
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: TNT

Odds as of Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150). No strings attached. No rollover required.

This was such a fun series in the 2019 postseason. Unfortunately, neither team looks as dominant as they did seven months ago. The Blazers are 11th in the West standings and the Nuggets look like a shell of themselves — particularly Nikola Jokic.

Will these teams rewind back to the playoff darlings we remember from May? Our NBA experts break down every angle of this matchup including trends and picks.

Betting Trend to Know

Since signing Carmelo Anthony in late November, the Trail Blazers are 5-6 against the spread.

Since 2017, when Anthony was traded to the Thunder, his teams have gone 46-61-1 (43%) ATS when he plays more than one minute. John Ewing

Bryan Mears: Nuggets Offense Still Rusty

And here we have the battle of disappointing Western Conference teams. They’re obviously disappointing on the whole this season, but even lately in the last two weeks they’ve posted below-average point differentials.

The Blazers have somewhat righted the ship after a truly miserable November, going 5-3 over their last eight games, but even those wins weren’t exactly impressive against the Bulls twice, Thunder at home, Kings at home and Knicks at home.

The defense, outside of that New York game, has remained awful and the Blazers remain quite injured, down Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins and now Rodney Hood from the rotation.

And man, the Nuggets. First, they’re dealing with some injuries of their own in Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap, both of whom are questionable tonight. We have Murray at 70% to play tonight, as he took to Instagram to say he’s good to go. Millsap is more of a 50/50 proposition, and he has a team-high +22.0 on/off differential this season. In fact, that’s the top mark in the entire league.

Not all of that is Millsap, of course. The starters just have crazy splits compared to the bench, which is surprisingly been awful this season. There were thoughts that Monte Morris, an impressive rookie last year, would take a bit of a leap. Jerami Grant was an awesome find in free agency. Malik Beasley looked poise to take a step as well. Maybe they get something from Michael Porter Jr.

That just hasn’t been the case: All of those players have significantly negative on/off differential numbers and have been the main reason the Nuggets have been so bad — well, along with terrible overall shooting, a poor offensive shot profile and a weird start to the season from Jokic.

Put all that together and it’s easy to see why the Nuggets have been so frustrating and up-and-down. They’re currently down right now, having lost five of their last six games. Admittedly, all of those losses were on the road and to some pretty good teams, but the offense has been truly atrocious.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5).

In that stretch, they’ve scored just 102.0 points/100 (27th in the league) and posted a 49.9% eFG% mark (26th). They’ve grabbed very few offensive rebounds and have gotten to the line at the second-lowest rate.

Again, they’ve faced good defenses, but these things have been problems all season for the Nuggets outside of the rebounding. Nothing comes easy for them: They’re dead last on the year in free throw rate, 25th in shots at the rim and 26th in 3-point rate. They get out in transition at a bottom-10 rate, too.

Where exactly are easy buckets coming from in this offense? That remains to be seen, which means this is a highly-volatile team right now that is very reliant on getting hot from the mid-range, which opposing defenses know.

They are facing a pretty bad Blazers defense, although let’s note why Portland has been bad in that regard. They’re actually fifth in eFG% allowed despite ranking 19th overall on defense. It hasn’t been overall shooting, it’s that they never force turnovers, never get rebounds and foul teams all the time. They also allow transition opportunities at the highest rate.

So it’s the immovable object vs. irresistible force debate: Where the Blazers suck on defense is coincidentally where the Nuggets just haven’t really prioritized their offense. Will that change tonight? Do teams change on the fly in a regular-season game, especially when it comes to fundamental things like how they operate their offense?

I’m hesitant that’s the case, which is why I’m currently leaning toward the under in this game. The market early on has been interesting on this one, though. The over is getting 51% of the bets and 96% of the money. There’s even been a steam move on the over at 213. And yet the total hasn’t budged despite those things, indicating some resistance.

I’ll keep monitoring this one to make sure I’m not on the wrong side from the sharps, and if there isn’t a rash of steam on the over to move it up (which would indicate sharp money on that side), I’ll likely grab the under this afternoon. — Bryan Mears

[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Moore: Ride the Under to Glory

This is pretty simple. The Nuggets and Blazers have bottom-five expected effective field goal percentages per Cleaning The Glass. They take the worst shots.

The Nuggets’ defense has been good, at least in terms of percentage allowed, with the seventh-best defensive rating at home (and that includes an outlier give-up effort vs. the Hawks).

The total is up at 214, and one of these teams is likely scoring sub-100. Neither have good offensive weapons right now, neither really pushes the pace, and the Nuggets have a banged up Murray (who expects to play) and Millsap (who has been one of their few good shooters this season). This is going to be an absolute brickfest. Take the under 214. — Matt Moore

[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

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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