Defense, Pace Make 'Under' Right Call For Nuggets At Blazers Friday

Jason Lake

Thursday, November 29, 2018 7:13 PM UTC

Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018 7:13 PM UTC

The Denver Nuggets have the under at 14-6-1 this year. But can they do it again Friday night when they visit Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers?

Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Nov. 28: 6-6 ATS, 3-1 Totals

Denver (14-7 SU, 12-9 ATS) at Portland (13-8 SU, 11-10 ATS)Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)Free NBA Pick: UnderBest Line Offered: Bookmaker

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3568941, "sportsbooksIds":[93,1096,999991,238,999996], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

Beating the NBA odds has never been easier – or more difficult. Thanks to computers and dedicated hoop nerds, we’ve got free access to projections for every game on the schedule. Reliable projections, too, the kind that oddsmakers set their opening lines by. When they don’t, or when the lines move far enough away from the projections, presto: There’s your profit margin.

Of course, this also means the NBA lines are getting tighter, as the betting market grows more efficient. But the computers aren’t quite as reliable (for now) when it comes to pinning down the exact score. Totals are where the gold is at these days, and since we don’t have the opening spread yet for Friday’s game between the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers, let’s stick with the over/under for our NBA picks.

Post Malone

The Nuggets are making it easy for us. They have the UNDER at 14-6-1 thus far, including 7-1 on the road. How are they doing it? Defense, defense, defense. Denver rank third in the league in defensive efficiency, allowing 101.9 points per 100 possessions. That is a massive improvement over last year, when they coughed up 108.8 points/100 (No. 26 overall). And that improvement gets magnified by the added possessions per game that the new in-bound rules give us.

Not that we want more possessions for Friday’s matchup. Thankfully, Denver operates at one of the slowest paces in the NBA; they get in 100.5 possessions per game, or No. 25 overall. This is head coach Michael Malone at work. He’s a defensive whiz, and he’s got a special pair of big men in Nikola Jokic (plus-4.4 DBPM) and Mason Plumlee (plus-5.4 DBPM) who are vacuuming up everything in sight.

[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "

Gary Harris did some work today at practice and is progressing with his ankle soreness. Malone expects Harris to take part in some or all of shootaround tomorrow and then team will make a determination on his status.

— Mike Singer (@msinger) November 29, 2018
\n\n"}[/]

Don’t Harris Me

Portland (OVER 12-9) aren’t the perfect dance partners in this scenario, but they shouldn’t spoil things too much. They’re in the middle of the pack in defensive efficiency, No. 18 overall at 107.2 points allowed/100. They also play at a medium pace, 102.9 possessions per game (No. 14). And the UNDER is 6-5 at the former Rose Garden.

Granted, both of Friday’s teams are in the Top 10 on offense: Portland seventh and Denver eighth. But the Nuggets have some personnel issues in the backcourt. SG Gary Harris (plus-1.0 OBPM) has sat out back-to-back games with a sore left ankle, and remains iffy to play in Portland. Both those games went UNDER the posted total. They’re still missing Will Barton (plus-1.6 OBPM) on the wing, too. He’s only played two games this year thanks to a hip/core injury. Let’s profit while we can, and may the sphere be with you.

comment here