Nuggets Push For Playoffs Versus Thunder Sunday

Denver Nuggets

Jay Pryce

Sunday, April 9, 2017 5:10 PM GMT

Sunday, Apr. 9, 2017 5:10 PM GMT

The Nuggets and Thunder have three games left in the regular season, twice playing each other. The first matchup is Sunday. Denver is pushing for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, while the Thunder are fighting for seeding. Betting preview and pick inside.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Denver NuggetsOKC Thunder (45-34 SU, 43-35-1 ATS)

The Thunder will make the playoffs, but are in a tight battle with the Clippers for the sixth seed in the Western Conference. The winner will take on the Rockets, which locked up the third spot following its 110-104 win over the Nuggets Tuesday night. L.A. holds a three-game lead over the Thunder with a trio of games left for each.

The big story in OKC is Russell Westbrook becoming the first NBA player in 55 years to average a triple-double for the season—just the second time in league history. He achieved the accomplishment in the Thunder's last game, a 120-99 blowout by Phoenix on Friday. Westbrook has 41 triple-doubles on the season. The team is just 3-3 SU and 2-4 ATS in its last six when the MVP frontrunner records the feat.

The Thunder have been poor on the road this season against conference foes, going 8-16 SU and ATS overall. As an underdog in this situation, it is just 2-12 SU and 3-11 ATS, losing to the number by 8.3 points per game. Ouch.

 

Denver Nuggets (38-41 SU, 44-33-2 ATS)

The Nuggets sit a game back of the Trail Blazers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. They have three games remaining, two of which are against the Thunder. The young core will mature immensely in the next few contests, as they play under pressure not experienced in Denver since making the postseason last in the 2012-13 season.

Emmanual Mudiay, who recently returned from injury, is questionable with a high ankle sprain. With Jameer Nelson out with a strained calf, expect Jamal Murray to see more minutes. The Nuggets are 8-3 ATS when the rookie shooting guard drops more than 17 points. Murray posted career-highs for points in a game (30), shots made (10), shooting percentage (71.4), and minutes played (38) in a 122-106 victory over the Pelicans last time out.

Denver is 14-7 ATS since the All-Star break. Leaning more on their youth (Gary Harris, Nickola Jokic, Mason Plumlee, etc.), it is beating the number by 3.41 points per game. Only the Nets (4.96) and Pelicans (3.81) are shocking the betting market more in this span.

The biggest improvement is on offense. The Nuggets averaged 110.6 points per game on 46.1 percent shooting prior to the break. Since, they post 115.5 per night on 49.0 percent from the floor. Improved spacing and sublime passing is opening up better looks. Denver’s 117.2 points per 100 possessions in its last five games ranks sixth most efficient in the NBA.

 

Final Analysis

The Nuggets have all the momentum and need this win to make the playoffs. OKC just doesn’t have the firepower, nor legs, this late in the season to keep up on offense. Scoring efficiency is big issue for the Thunder away from Chesapeake Arena this year, ranking fifth from the bottom in the West with 105.4 points per 100 possessions. Denver wins going away, and covers the spread. Nuggets -4.5 in the pick.

Free NBA Pick: Nuggets -4Best Line Offered: at Bovada

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