The Denver Nuggets (40-18; 31-27 ATS) are keen to at least keep their No. 2 seed in the West if they fail to surpass the Warriors, riding a three-game winning streak following a 114-104 victory at the Dallas Mavericks Friday night. On the other side, the Los Angeles Clippers (33-27; 33-27 ATS) are coming off a 112-106 win at the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night to record their second consecutive victory, while the Clippers are still holding the No. 8 seed in the West.
The Clippers will meet the Nuggets for the fourth time this season, and Denver leads the series 2-1, while the winning team is 3-0 ATS. The Nuggets thrashed off the Clippers 121-100 as 5.5-point favorites in the previous head-to-head meeting at Pepsi Center on January 10, 2019.
The Clippers will be without Wilson Chandler (right quadriceps) and Luc Mbah a Moute (knee) tonight, while the Nuggets will miss Tey Lyles (hamstring), but all major players on both sides will be on the floor.
The Nuggets opened as strong 9-point favorites with the total at 232.0 points and the Clippers at +330 money line odds. The bookies fancy the Nuggets who are on a seven-game winning streak at Pepsi Center, covering the spread six times in the process, while Denver is 19-1 straight up and 15-5 ATS in its last 20 showings on the home court. The over has hit in 10 of Denver’s last 12 contests at Pepsi Center. On the other side, the Clippers are 6-3 straight up and ATS in their last nine outings on the road, while the under has hit in 10 of the Clippers previous 14 road games.
What’s at Stake?
The Nuggets will arguably have a tall task to surpass the reigning champions and finish at the top of the West, but they are just two games ahead of their divisional rival Oklahoma City at the No. 3 seed, so every game counts for Mike Malone’s team. The same story is on the other side, as the Clippers are only two games ahead of Sacramento at the No.9 seed, so there’s a lot on the table for them, too.
The Clippers will play back-to-back here, visiting the Dallas Mavericks Monday night. They are 7-3 straight up and 6-4 ATS on the front end of their 10 back-to-back sets this season. The Nuggets stay at home to welcome the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday night before another tough home matchup with the Utah Jazz on Thursday.
The Nuggets completely outplayed the Clippers in their previous H2H duel in Colorado. Denver made 50.5% of its field goals and 39.3% of its 3-pointers while making 29 assists and winning the battle on the glass (53-38). The Clippers shot 43.7% from the field, hitting just six of their 24 attempts from beyond the arc while making 21 assists. The Nuggets had six players in double-digits, and Jamal Murray led the way with 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field, while Nikola Jokic posted a triple-double with 18 points, 14 boards, and 10 assists. On the other side, Lou Williams scored 19 points off the bench, while Danilo Gallinari added 18 points on awful 6-of-17 shooting from the field.
Meanwhile, the Clippers have changed their roster, but they will once again struggle to cope with Nikola Jokic in the paint. Ivica Zubac is starting at center for the Clippers, but he will be tortured by Joker, so you can expect to see Montrezl Harrell in the lineup a lot tonight. Harrell is having the best season of his career, averaging 16.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, mostly coming off the bench. He’s a great pick-and-roll threat which is not good news for Jokic and the Nuggets. Another key factor for the Clippers will be their shooting from deep, and if they fail to find the right rhythm, the Nuggets will blow them away.
Denver’s offense has been excellent all season long, and the Clippers will have a difficult time considering their defensive abilities. The Nuggets are scoring 114.4 points per 100 possessions (3rd in the league) on 47.0% shooting from the field (9th) and 35.5% from beyond the arc (10th) while making 28.2 assists (2nd). The Clippers are allowing 111.3 points per 100 possessions (20th in the league) on 45.5% shooting from the field (10th) and 34.0% from beyond the arc (3rd). Also, the Clippers are conceding 50.7 points in the paint per game (24th), while the Nuggets are scoring 53.3 points in the paint per contest (4th).
On the other side, the Clippers are tallying 111.8 points per 100 possessions (11th in the league) on 47.2% shooting from the field (8th) and 38.6% from downtown (2nd), while the Nuggets are surrendering 109.3 points per 100 possessions (14th) on 45.9% shooting from the field (15th) and 34.5% from beyond the arc (9th).
The Nuggets are 6-3 straight up and 5-4 ATS in their last nine meetings with the Clippers. Also, the Nuggets are 8-3 straight up and ATS in their previous 11 home encounters with LA. From the betting trends viewpoint, the Nuggets should cover tonight.
The Clippers are moving in mysterious ways, and many doubt their chances to make it to the postseason. Also, there is a 2019 1st round pick that will go to Boston if the Clippers reach the playoffs. However, the Nuggets are certainly a better team than the Clippers, and they are finally healthy which is a very important fact, so I’m backing the hosts to win tonight. Still, I would take the alternative point spread at slightly lower wages. if you want to earn some greater wages, take the Nuggets along with the over on the totals around +250 odds. This should be a proper high-scoring affair, considering all the stats and the teams’ current form. Five of the Nuggets’ last eight home games had more than 232 points in the total, while three of the Clippers last five road contests had 232 or more points on the scoreboard.