Who will cover the NBA betting lines tonight, as both the Denver Nuggets & Portland Trail Blazers deal with volatile situations, between an interim head coach on one side & a banged up team on the other?
The Denver Nuggets Can Win Because…
Their opponent is really banged up, even if more players will be playing on Saturday. The injury report for Portland says that Nicolas Batum will start for the team on Friday against Phoenix, and that Chris Kaman is probable. This is good news for Portland, but one thing about injuries is that even when players return to the lineup, that’s not a guarantee of instant success. Often, a team needs a few games to get previously injured players back into a good rhythm. This is the challenge that Portland is going to face against Denver. Keep in mind when preparing your NBA pick that Wesley Matthews isn’t even listed in box scores anymore. He’s out for the rest of the season. Portland, like any NBA team, can’t be expected to show much of any good consistency when players are coming in and out in a revolving-door pattern. This is why the Nuggets can spring an ambush on the road.
The Portland Trail Blazers Can Win Because…
Their opponent is a mess, as shown by their status as underdogs in NBA odds. You can’t get much worse in the NBA than losing by 14 points at home to the Philadelphia 76ers, but that’s exactly what the Denver Nuggets did on Wednesday night. The Nuggets were okay through three quarters, but they lost the fourth quarter by a score of 27-9, which is beyond the imagination. Losing a fourth quarter by 18 points to the Sixers is another level of misery. When you score only nine points in a quarter, you’re obviously not hitting many shots. Denver, for the game, hit only 34.5 percent of its field goal attempts, hitting just 29 of 84. The Nuggets were 8 of 29 from the three-point arc. They got 12 of their shots blocked by Philadelphia, which tells you that the Nuggets panicked and tried to force the ball into traffic when a good shot opportunity really didn’t exist. This means the Nuggets were unwilling to move the ball and make the extra effort to get people open. With a performance as awful as that, how can the Nuggets – embarrassed at home – possibly win on the road against a Portland team that, while injured, still has Damian Lillard and a reasonably good core group? It just doesn’t add up for the Nuggets here. They are playing harder than they did in the final weeks under previous coach Brian Shaw, whom they came to dislike, but they’re still not playing well – that sort of thing can’t be fixed immediately. This is a team playing the remainder of its season and hoping that things will be better next season under a new and superior coach.
The fact that the Nuggets are playing with an interim coach matters less than scoring nine points in the fourth quarter at home against Philadelphia. That’s what horrible teams do. They’ve lost four of six and can’t wait for the season to be over. Take Portland here and don’t worry about the rest.
NBA Pick: Portland -8.5 at 5Dimes