Jordan’s NBA Picks: 77-56-1 (Playoffs 23-18-1)
Portland (60-33 SU & 50-43 ATS) at Denver (61-34 SU & 49-46 ATS)
Sunday, 3:30 PM EST, ABC
Free NBA Pick: OVER 1H
Best Line Offered: Intertops
Game 7’s are the greatest sporting event in all of sports. Better than the Super Bowl and bigger than March Madness. It encompasses everything good about the game of basketball and
Nuggets’ Home Defense
While both teams have been pretty evenly matched by all accounts, the Nuggets have stood out in one area; home defense. The Nuggets are only allowing 105.1 points per 100 possessions in their three home games in this series, compared to allowing 119.3 in their three road games.
If that trend continues and the Nuggets lock in on defense like they are capable of, they will win this game. The Blazers have been consistent no doubt, but they are also beatable if C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard are held somewhat in check.
This will be the challenge for Denver, but I think they are more than capable of getting it done. Since the Blazers lost Jusuf Nurkic for the season, they have lacked a big body down low that can block shots, get steals and start fast breaks for the guards and wings.
Enes Kanter has been huge for them, that is undeniable. However, Kanter is not the defensive presence that Nurkic is and Kanter also probably gives up two inches and at least 30 pounds compared to Nurkic.
If McCollum and/or Lillard aren’t making shots in Game 7 on the road, that could be a problem for the Blazers trying to stay in this game. Outside of those two guards and Kanter, the rest of the team is giving them very little on offense. Al Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless have been missing offensively most of the series and other than Seth Curry and Rodney Hood, the Blazers have gotten very little bench scoring.
If the Nuggets’ defense is playing at its’ peak and the fans in Denver are rowdy and loud, this could be an environment where the Nuggets take control and the Blazers just can’t make enough shots to catch up.
The Sharp Pick
While I’m tempted to lay the points with the Nuggets, this line is really sharp and I’m against betting against players as good as Lillard and McCollum in a closeout Game 7.
Instead, I think a wager on the first half total is a much more attractive bet. In the six game in this series, these two teams have scored the ball very well in the first half Each has an offensive rating of 112.5 or better in the first halves of this series and both have first half effective field goal percentages close to 50.
Denver actually ranks behind only Golden State in first half offense in the playoffs and at home and considering how well they have scored in this series at home, I like the over here. Denver is averaging just 52.7 points per first half in this series and at home, but the 35 points in the first half of Game 2 is a little bit of an outlier. They have also hit at least 54 first half points over their last three games. If they can meet or exceed that again without holding Portland down too much, I think the play is taking a shot at a very reasonable 104 points.