Saturday’s five-game slate features one potential upset that also carries plenty of value against the NBA odds. The new-look Denver Nuggets are +355 home dogs against the wounded Portland Trail Blazers.
Jason’s record as of Mar. 27: 61-58-5 ATS, 6-11 Totals, plus-2.15 units ML
It’s been a little while since we checked in on the Denver Nuggets. Free at last, free at last, the Nuggets are 8-6 SU and 10-4 ATS under interim head coach Melvin Hunt. We hope you’ve been riding this golden wave since Denver gave Brian Shaw the ax; we’re going to jump back on board, but this time, it’s a moneyline bet for Saturday’s matchup (10:00 p.m. ET) against the Portland Trail Blazers. The NBA odds at press time have the Nuggets pegged at +330.
Will to Power
Things have gone about as smoothly as Denver fans could have hoped for now that Shaw and his triangle offense aren’t slowing things down. Not only are the 28-45 Nuggets back to running and gunning like the good old days, they’re also enjoying a rare spell of good health. Or at least they were. Danilo Gallinari (15.3 PER, plus-0.4 BPM) was listed as questionable for Friday’s 107-91 win over the Utah Jazz as 2-point home faves. But good news: Gallinari played through a sore right triceps and should be good to go for Saturday.
Darrell Arthur (11.6 PER, minus-1.1 BPM) and his nagging calf injury are the only other concerns for the Nuggets at this point. Otherwise, it’s all hands on deck, and it’s a stacked deck, too. Hunt was able to go 11-deep into his reserves Friday night after building a big lead, fueled by a 13-of-24 shooting performance from beyond the arc. Will Barton (16.1 PER, plus-1.1 BPM) had another great game off the bench with 12 points on 5-of-9 from the field with 10 rebounds (!) and a pair of assists in 20 minutes.
Always Keep Some Fresh AA’s Around
As if the 46-25 Trail Blazers needed reminding, they traded Barton to Denver, packaged with a first-round draft pick, for Aaron Afflalo (7.3 PER, minus-4.0). We don’t mean to keep kicking Afflalo when he’s down – he was a useful part of last year’s Orlando Magic squad, and enjoyed a couple of good offensive years in his first stint with the Nuggets. But it’s been a bad year for Afflalo, and it’s only gotten worse in Portland.
Friday night was another one of those nights. Afflalo scored just four points against the Phoenix Suns on 2-of-6 shooting, missing all three of his trey attempts. It worked out for the Blazers anyway; they went on a late run in the fourth quarter while the Suns started laying bricks, pulling out an 87-81 win as a 1.5-point road chalk. We’ve had better days here at the home office.
The Air Up There
No point in being results-oriented here. LaMarcus Aldridge (22.6 PER, minus-0.2 BPM) was having another one of his inefficient, high-volume days, but he started connecting on everything late in the fourth, hitting six straight buckets to finish the game with 27 points on 13-of-26 shooting. That will happen a non-zero percentage of the time.
Meanwhile, both Nic Batum (12.8 PER, plus-2.8 BPM) and Chris Kaman (16.7 PER, minus-1.7 BPM) were able to play for Portland after missing a few games. With little bench strength to speak of, it’s critical for the Trail Blazers to have both these plus-defenders available for the postseason.
So that’s back-to-back victories for the Blazers after a five-game losing streak. Is this indeed the start of something big? Maybe, but at these basketball odds, we’re inclined to stick with the Nuggets for our NBA pick. Their deeper reserve corps will come in handy Saturday night after both teams were in action Friday. And don’t discount the value of that high-altitude training Denver just did for this matchup.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Nuggets +355 at BetOnline