Handicappers Predict Nuggets vs. Magic +1

Jason Lake

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 11:40 AM GMT

Let’s all welcome the Denver Nuggets to Tank City. They’ve tripped over the NBA betting lines in 12 of their last 16 games heading into Wednesday’s matchup with the feisty Orlando Magic.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 10 inclusive:

79-61-1 ATS

21-19 Totals

This is why you don’t bet on the NBA before the odds come out. I blindly picked the San Antonio Spurs in Saturday’s game against the Orlando Magic, then I nearly tossed my cookies when I saw the Spurs end up as 16-point home favorites on the NBA odds board. Are you kidding me? San Antonio won 121-112. Whoop-de-doo.

At least this time we know that the Magic have a full roster going into Wednesday’s matchup (7:00 p.m. ET) with the Denver Nuggets, who have pretty much hit the skids after winning just three games this past month. Orlando is a 1-point home dog as we go to press with a total of 211.5 points. So which of these two teams is willing to tank it up more?

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":258283, "sportsbooksIds":[43], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

These Nuggets are Inedible

My gut response says the Nuggets (27-36 SU, 26-37 ATS). They’re the road team in this contest, with a road record of 11-20 SU and 14-17 ATS, and the Nuggets have started their current five-game trek with back-to-back losses against the New Orleans Pelicans (–3.5) and the Charlotte Bobcats (–5.5).

We can even see Denver’s level of play decreasing as the season wears on. Here’s a look at the team’s defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) in 10-game increments from the start of the 2013-14 campaign, as per NBA.com:

Games 1-10: 104.5

Games 11-20: 100.4

Games 21-30: 103.4

Games 31-40: 106.1

Games 41-50: 107.7

Games 51-60: 108.4

On top of that, the Nuggets offense has gone south over the past 30 games, from 113.0 points scored per 100 possessions to just 98.2 points. That’s partly due to the 11 games that Ty Lawson (20.2 PER) ended up missing during that span; Denver went 2-1 SU and ATS in Lawson’s first three games back, but the good times quickly evaporated in those losses to the Pelicans and Bobcats.

Minus Men

There just isn’t much punch on this Nuggets team once you get past Lawson. Thanks to the season-ending injury to Nate Robinson (15.9 PER) and the departure of Andre Miller (13.6 PER), there are only two other Denver players besides Lawson (plus-4.3) with a positive plus-minus Simple Rating at 82games: Timofey Mozgov (15.9 PER, plus-2.5) and Kenneth Faried (18.9 PER, plus-0.5).

That gap between Faried’s PER and his plus-minus speaks volumes. Faried is a monster athlete who plays hard, and he was a three-time OVC Defensive Player of the Year coming out of Morehead State, but Faried has been burned on defense lately. Check out Anthony Davis and his 32-point night against Denver, which included 17 rebounds and six blocks. Yikes.

2013-14 NBA Championship Betting Futures

Bony Orlando

But are the Magic (19-46 SU, 27-36-2 ATS) the right team to take advantage? They’re coming off a 105-98 defeat at the hands of the last-place Milwaukee Bucks (+1 at home). Orlando is now 3-9 SU and 4-6-2 ATS in its last dozen games. The draft lottery is calling. And when these two teams met on Jan. 11, it was the Nuggets cruising to a 120-94 win as 12.5-point home favorites.

True, but the Nuggets had most of their lineup intact, including Robinson, while the Magic were without their two best players, Nikola Vucevic (18.8 PER) and Aaron Afflalo (17.0 PER). They’ll both be in action on Wednesday. The Magic are 16-15 ATS at home this year compared to 11-12-2 ATS away, and when it comes to playing losing teams, they’re 10-7 ATS at home and 4-15 ATS on the road. I can see Orlando taking this one at the AC.

NBA Pick: Take the Magic +1 (–103) at Pinnacle