NBA Picks for Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, January 23, 2014 2:49 PM GMT

Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 2:49 PM GMT

A pair of Western Conference teams collides as the Trail Blazers look to shake out of their recent funk when they host the Nuggets tonight in our NBA picks.

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Denver Nuggets (20-20 SU, 18-21-1 ATS)

If you want to summarize Denver’s middling season thus far just consider the words of their point guard Ty Lawson, "We score enough points.  No defense."  That’s pretty much all you need to know as Denver is averaging over 103.3 points per game but is ranked 24th in points allowed, surrendering an average of 102.8. Those stats reflect a .500 ball club and wonder of all wonders; here they sit at 20-20.

Speaking of Lawson, he is the Nuggets leading scorer averaging 18 PPG while JJ Hickson and Kenneth Faried are primarily responsible for Denver’s dominance on the boards this season, averaging almost 46 rebounds per contest. It must also be noted that the Nuggets have been without small forward Danilo Gallinari this year who contributed 16.2 points per game last season until he was felled by an ACL injury last April. The team learned Tuesday that Gallinari will miss the rest of the season after finally relenting to surgery to have his knee repaired.

Portland Trail Blazers (31-11 SU, 24-18 ATS)

The Trail Blazers have been tearing through their NBA schedule thus far though they have seen an interruption of their brilliant season over the last two games.  Straight up and ATS losses in NBA odds to the Rockets and most recently the Thunder have derailed their position at the top of the Western Conference standings. However, they return from their four-game road swing to the friendly confines of the Moda Center where they are 16-4 (11-9 ATS) as they host the Nuggets this evening.

The Blazers look to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season after opening up their road trip in impressive fashion with victories over the Spurs as 5 ½ point underdogs in NBA odds followed by a ferocious offensive display in a 127-111 win over the Mavericks. But that came to a crashing halt as two of the NBA’s powerhouses, Houston and Oklahoma City, staunched their bid for a winning road trip by defeating Portland 126-113 and 105-97 respectively. In Tuesday’s loss to the Thunder it was not so much that Portland fell due to poor play but much more so due to a magnificent performance by Kevin Durant who dropped 46 points on the Trail Blazers. LaMarcus Aldridge led the way for Portland in a losing effort by scoring 29 points and collecting 16 rebounds. Yet his struggles in the fourth-quarter proved to be fatal as OKC outscored the Blazers 28-22 in the final frame.

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The only meeting between these two clubs was back on November 1st in Denver when Portland throttled the Nuggets to the tune of 113-98 and covered the NBA odds as 4 ½ point underdogs. While that may have only been the second game of the season for Portland I can’t say much has changed in terms of how I perceive the outcome tonight. We now know that Portland is for real and Denver, still ever dangerous offensively, has become symbolic of the old matador defense. 

The Trail Blazers are the top scoring team in the league, averaging over 109 points per game and not so coincidentally, the top rebounding team as well. However, like Denver they too are defensively challenged. They are surrendering an average of 103.5 PPG and your immediate consideration should be a wager on the total. But unfortunately we are not the only ones thinking this way as the total opened at 220 and has climbed as high as 221 ½ in some offshore shops. Therefore, that line makes this total a pass for me.

However, I do believe that Portland will have a similar night to the one they had well over two months ago and dominate the Nuggets, particularly after getting drilled in Houston and watching helplessly as Kevin Durant schooled them in Oklahoma City. Tonight the Blazers get back on track for our free NBA picks.

NBA Picks: Portland -7 at WilliamHill.com

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