The Denver Nuggets are up the proverbial creek without a point guard. Will Ty Lawson come back Monday night and save Denver’s bacon against the Los Angeles Clippers and the NBA betting lines?
Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to February 2 inclusive:
Losing your starting point guard is no fun. Losing both your point guards at the same time? That’s a big problem. Just ask the Denver Nuggets – they saw Ty Lawson (20.0 PER) go down last week with a strained left rotator cuff, then Nate Robinson (16.0 PER) tore his left ACL and won’t play again this season. The Nuggets have dropped back-to-back games SU and ATS as a result.
Denver supporters are crossing their fingers that Lawson will be back in action Monday night (7:30 p.m. ET) when the Los Angeles Clippers come to town. The Denver Post says Lawson has been “improving” and is considered day-to-day. Until we get something more concrete, this matchup is circled on the NBA odds board, but the lines may be up by the time you read this.
Fingers Meet Butter
The Nuggets (22-23 SU, 21-24 ATS) need their best player back ASAP. They fell 101-98 to the Charlotte Bobcats (+7.5 away) last Wednesday after Robinson left the game six minutes in, and on Friday, the Toronto Raptors (–1 away) took advantage of the depleted roster in a 100-90 victory that wasn’t as close as the final score would suggest. Denver is now tied for 10th place in the Western Conference standings, 3.5 games behind the red-hot No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies.
Without Lawson or Robinson (or Andre Miller, who has been dismissed from team activities), the Nuggets have used Randy Foye (13.1 PER) as their starting point guard alongside Evan Fournier (8.7 PER). The results have been… interesting. Foye racked up 16 assists against Toronto, but also eight turnovers. Fournier had 18 points and seven turnovers. This was after the duo combined for 52 points and nine turnovers against Charlotte.
Read our NBA Picks of the Day for more free plays.
Getting Lawson back in the fold would help the situation immensely. He was an absolute steal when the Nuggets (via the Minnesota Timberwolves) selected him at No. 18 in the 2009 NBA Draft. Lawson was the 2009 ACC Player of the Year for the North Carolina Tar Heels, but he’s also 5-foot-11, and the Wolves had already drafted both Ricky Rubio at No. 5 and Jonny Flynn at No. 6 (lolz), so off he went to Denver.
That worked out pretty well. Lawson was strong right out of the box, posting a 16.4 PER in his rookie season while flashing his speed, athleticism and leadership skills. His quick development allowed then-GM Masai Ujiri to deal Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks in a 3-way trade that brought back a pile of assets, including Timofey Mozgov (18.0 PER) and Wilson Chandler (14.0 PER), both of whom will be in action on Monday. But the car won’t stay on the road without Lawson at the wheel.
The Clippers (34-16 SU, 29-21 ATS) can tell you all about it. It’s been an entire month since they lost the best point guard in the NBA, Chris Paul (27.5 PER), to a separated shoulder. But Darren Collison (17.6 PER) has performed admirably in relief, and the Clippers are 11-4 SU and 8-7 ATS since Paul’s last game. He’s expected back on Friday or Sunday.
Meanwhile, in their ongoing project to flesh out the wings, the Clippers are reportedly close to signing former Laker SG Sasha Vujacic to a 10-day contract. He may or may not be in the mix on Monday, but that’s not why the NBA lines are on hold. I’ll defer and pick the UNDER (13-10 at The Can) blind in this matchup, but consider taking Denver if Lawson suits up and the price is right.
NBA Pick: Take the UNDER