Load Up On Nuggets When OKC Visits Denver In Tuesday's Nightcap

Tuesday, February 26, 2019 3:48 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019 3:48 PM UTC

The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the best teams in the league, but the NBA odds for Tuesday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets are a bit much.

Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Feb. 24:
12-12 ATS, 0-3 ML (minus-8.35 units), 17-8 Totals

Oklahoma City (38-21 SU, 33-26-1 ATS) at Denver (41-18 SU, 32-27 ATS)

Tuesday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Free NBA Pick: Nuggets ATS
Best Line Offered: Heritage

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In theory, both the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder are small-market teams. But in the real world, the Thunder have had a national following for the past decade. They almost won a title, too – if only they had kept James Harden. And Kevin Durant. Oh well, at least they still have Russell Westbrook, and he has a new running buddy in Paul George, who’s playing at a near-MVP level. Maybe this will be their year.

While everyone makes goo-goo eyes at George, the Denver Nuggets have the real MVP candidate in Tuesday’s matchup: Nikola Jokic. They also have a better record than the Thunder, and better advanced stats, too. However, the Nuggets are still a regional team, and because people haven’t been paying attention, they’re a bargain as 3.5-point home faves on the NBA odds board at press time.

Throw It Down, Big Man

Don’t take our word for it. The fine folks at FiveThirtyEight project Denver as a 5-point favorite for Tuesday’s tilt, using their CARMELO formula. That’s pretty close to the 2-point difference between projected odds and actual odds that we use as a rule of thumb (as recommended long ago by Mason Malmuth and David Sklansky) to decide whether a team belongs in our NBA picks. You can get the Nuggets at -105 juice at several of the sportsbooks on SBR’s odds board, so that helps bridge the gap.

As for the George vs. Jokic debate that we just started now, since no one else will, here’s the skinny:

George: plus-6.2 BPM, plus-4.4 VORP, 24.7 PER, .226 WS/48
Jokic: plus-9.7 BPM, plus-5.4 VORP, 26.8 PER, .236 WS/48

End of debate. George gets more of the spotlight, of course, partly because of his association with Westbrook (plus-6.1 BPM) and the Thunder, but also because of his offensive wizardry. People don’t pay nearly as much attention to defense. Jokic is actually out-performing George at both ends of the court, but it’s his defense that really separates the two. Maybe more people will start paying attention if Denver go on a deep playoff run this spring.

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JOKIC pic.twitter.com/2TdJRvkPp0

— KIA en Zona 🏀 (@kiaenzona) February 18, 2019

In the meantime, we’re getting solid value on a team that’s won 10 of its past 13 games at 7-6 ATS. The Thunder have also been rolling at 12-3 SU and 10-5 ATS since mid-January, but they’ve had some issues of late, going 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS heading into Tuesday’s matchup. Markieff Morris (minus-2.5 BPM in two games) hasn’t quite worked himself into the fold yet; he’s been an improvement over Patrick Patterson (minus-3.4 BPM), but until he starts gaining some traction, Oklahoma City’s suspect bench will remain suspect. We’ll fade that for a dollar.

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