The second meeting of the season between the Denver Nuggets (40-18; 28-27-3 ATS) and Los Angeles Clippers (39-19; 31-27 ATS) would be a tremendous battle for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, so you don’t want to miss Friday’s game at Staples Center in LA. The Nuggets beat the Clippers 114-104 as 1-point home dogs on January 12, recording their third consecutive straight-up and ATS win over LA, so the Clippers seek revenge on the home court as both teams want to stay on the winning path.
Mike Malone and Doc Rivers have had some injury worries over the last few weeks, but both can count on all their players at the moment.
The Clippers opened as 5.5-point favorites with a total of 220.0 points at Betonline, BetDSI, and MyBookie. They are 8-3 SU and 7-4 ATS in the last 11 outings as favorites. Interestingly, the Nuggets are 8-6 ATS in their last 14 showings as underdogs, failing to cover in all those six straight-up losses.
What’s at Stake?
The Nuggets hold the second seed in the West, only one game ahead of the third-seeded Clippers, so the stake is huge in this one. Denver has a great opportunity to clinch its regular-season series with LA and increase the gap.
Both teams will look to extend their winning streaks to three games. The Clippers are coming off a 115-98 home win over the Pistons on Tuesday, while the Clippers defeated the Suns 102-92 on the road Wednesday night.
The Nuggets comfortably defeated the Clippers in their first duel of the season thanks to better shooting. They made 48.1% of their field goals and 44.0% of their 3-pointers, while the Clippers shot 45.2% from the field and only 24.2% from beyond the arc. The Nuggets forced the Clippers into a down-tempo basketball and will try to replicate the recipe Friday night in Los Angeles.
Denver loves to play at a slow pace, averaging the second-fewest possessions per 48 minutes in the NBA (97.2). On the other side, the Clippers’ pace of 102.0 possessions per 48 minutes is the eighth-fastest in the league. Hereof, the Clippers have to be aggressive defensively and try to push the ball in transition as much as they can.
After dropping three straight games, the Clippers have tightened up things, surrendering only 97 points to Memphis and 92 points to Phoenix over their previous two outings. They allow 107.0 points per 100 possessions (6th in the league), while the Nuggets surrender 108.7 (10th). On the other side of the ball, the Clippers and Nuggets are tied for the sixth-best offensive rating with 112.7 points scored per 100 possessions.
Back in January, Nikola Jokic tortured the Clippers for 20 points, 15 rebounds, and six assists, while seven Nuggets players scored in double figures. On the other side, only three guys scored in double digits for the Clippers, and Kawhi Leonard led the way with 30 points. The Clippers missed Paul George who could be an X-factor in this clash. George hasn’t scored more than 11 points in his previous four outings.
The Clippers are finally healthy, so I’m backing them to beat the Nuggets in front of the home fans. Still, I expect to see a close game, so I don’t feel comfortable with a 5.5-point spread at all. This clash could be easily decided by few points down the stretch. Therefore, I suggest you take the Clippers as 2.5-point favorites at lower wages.
The Nuggets have dominated the Clippers lately and are 5-1 SU and ATS in their last six meetings with LA. However, the Clippers should have learned a lesson, and I expect them to play tough defense Friday to outlast the Nuggets. It also means that I would take the under on the totals, but betting on the Clippers still looks like the best move here. The under is 4-1 in the last five meetings between the Nuggets and Clippers.