Saturday, 5 p.m. ET
Free NBA Pick: Nuggets ATS
Best Line Offered: SportsBetting
If you are looking for a betting option opposite the Colts-Texans wild-card game on Saturday or perhaps a cross-parlay possibility, the first NBA game of Saturday is a 5 p.m. ET tip from Denver as the Charlotte Hornets make their lone visit of the season.
Because the Hornets are in the Eastern Conference, they are currently in the playoffs despite that 18-19 record. It’s all but a lock that at least one below-.500 team will make the East playoffs and possibly as many as three. That’s not happening in the West. Denver, meanwhile, is neck-and-neck with Golden State for the West’s best record, although I’m not sure anyone really thinks the Nuggets are a serious threat to the Warriors in the playoffs. SBR will have a story this Thursday on whether you should take Denver seriously as a contender.
On Dec. 7 in Charlotte, the Hornets were 1-point favorites over the Nuggets and won 113-107 – that was the front end of a back-to-back for Denver, which brought in a seven-game winning streak. Kemba Walker was terrific with 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Denver shot just 38.6 percent and 8-for-35 from deep. Jamal Murray had 20 points, and Nikola Jokic 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Will Barton and Gary Harris were out injured and Paul Millsap left the game with an injury.
Bugs Usually Smashed On Road
Charlotte is one of the NBA’s worst road teams at 4-11 SU (7-8 ATS) and could be well under .500 when this six-game road trip ends. I give the Hornets only one great chance of a victory on the trip: Sunday night in Phoenix.
The Hornets are an odd team overall as they can beat anyone – they have wins over Boston, Indiana and Milwaukee – but also look horrible on any given night. That was the case on Tuesday as Charlotte was bombed 122-84 at home by Dallas, which had lost its past nine on the road. It entered the game with an NBA-worst 2-16 road record. The game was over after a quarter with the Mavs up 42-26. Walker had just 11 points. Cody Zeller (hand) and Jeremy Lamb (hamstring) both sat for the Hornets. Zeller’s going to be out a while with a fractured right hand.
Denver has followed a two-game slide with four straight wins, albeit all of them close. It was 117-113 in Sacramento on Thursday in a one-game trip. Murray scored 17 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter as the Nuggets rallied from an early 15-point third-quarter hole. MVP candidate Nikola Jokic had 26 points and 13 rebounds; Denver destroyed Sacramento 54-33 on the boards. The Nuggets are a Top 10 rebounding team (Hornets are 20th).
Mason Plumlee chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds. He has continued to start even though Millsap has been back from injury the past three games. Torrey Craig also has stayed as a starter even though Harris has been back two games from injury. Barton is the only key Nugget still out but getting close.
We will have a brother-vs.-brother matchup in this one between the Hornets’ Willy Hernangomez and Nuggets’ Juancho.
- Home team is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings.
- Hornets are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games.
- Nuggets are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 home games.
Charlotte was beaten 121-104 in Denver last year, and that sounds about right for Saturday. Put an NBA ATS bet on the Nuggets.