Free NBA Picks for Nuggets vs. Pistons

Jason Lake

Saturday, February 8, 2014 1:18 PM GMT

Two tired teams are about to meet at the Palace. Will the younger Detroit Pistons take advantage and beat the NBA lines against the visiting Denver Nuggets?

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to February 6 inclusive:

60-45-1 ATS

14-13 Totals

They say youth is wasted on the young. But that’s just old people being crabby. There are times when boundless energy is a major advantage – consider Thursday’s game between the Detroit Pistons and the Brooklyn Nets, for example. The Nets (+1.5 away), who are the second-oldest team in the NBA at an average of 30.5 years, were playing the second of back-to-back games, and noted crabby person Kevin Garnett was given a maintenance day off. The Pistons (24.7 years) are the third-youngest team in the league, and they were up 94-65 before coasting to a 111-95 victory.

Those fresh legs could be the difference on Saturday when the Pistons (20-29 SU, 21-27-1 ATS) host the Denver Nuggets (24-23 SU, 22-25 ATS), who were flattened 117-90 by the New York Knicks (–2) Friday night at MSG. The Nuggets aren’t ancient by any means, but they’re No. 18 out of the 30 teams at 26.4 years, and they’ll be the ones hitting the road for Saturday’s matchup. The early NBA odds have Detroit favored by a single point with a total of 216, up from 214 at the open.

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East is East

Detroit certainly hasn’t been the best buy on the NBA betting market this year. As I mentioned in our latest Eastern Conference round-up, the Pistons have pretty much fallen apart since the holidays. There is some talent there, but not a lot of teamwork, and it really shows up against quality opposition. Detroit is 17-14-1 ATS against teams from the East, and (gulp) 4-13 ATS against the Western Conference. The Pistons are also 14-13 ATS against losing teams and 6-10 ATS against winning teams.

This is in stark contrast to the Nuggets, who seem to play down to the level of their opponents. With the loss to the Knicks, Denver falls to 8-10 ATS against the East and 8-15 ATS against teams with losing records. Compare that to 14-15 ATS versus the West and 14-11 ATS against teams with records over .500. Hmmph. Seems those splits are a wash for both teams on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA-TV).

Night on Splash Mountain

Of course, those are just the market numbers. If you compare these two teams on purely basketball terms, Detroit doesn’t stack up very well:

Denver: No. 11 offense (104.6 points/100 possessions), No. 17 defense (103.5 points allowed/100)

Detroit: No. 20 offense (101.8), No. 19 defense (105.0)

Those numbers don’t include Friday’s action, by the way. Even so, the Nuggets are ahead on both counts, especially on offense. Ty Lawson (20.0 PER) is back in action and looking good – he scored 24 points against the Knicks with seven assists. Friday was mostly just one of those games where Denver’s 3-pointers didn’t go in (7-of-26) and New York’s did (11-of-28). But the Nuggets were also abused in the paint; Amar’e Stoudemire was all over Denver with 17 points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.

Catch-22

This is why Detroit has more than just a puncher’s chance on Saturday. Andre Drummond (22.0 PER) and Greg Monroe (17.7 PER) are the best thing going in Motown right now; Drummond had 16 points and 22 rebounds – eight of those on the offensive glass – against a Nets team that was missing Garnett and Brook Lopez.

As for the back-to-back games consideration, Detroit is 5-7 SU and ATS this year playing on zero days of rest, while Denver is 2-5 SU and ATS. Throw in that extra travel time, and I think this is one of those rare situations where you have to read the fine print before auto-betting against Detroit.

NBA Pick: Take the Pistons PK at BetOnline