The Over has been a tasty NBA pick for both the Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers. Is there any reason to bet anything else this Thursday?
Denver Nuggets vs. Indiana Pacers
Thursday, March 04, 2021 – 08:00 PM EST at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
It’s been almost 10 years since the Denver Nuggets (20-15 SU, 16-19 ATS) were this good. According to the Simple Rating System at Basketball Reference, the Nuggets are 5.04 points better per game than your average NBA team; the last time Denver played at this level was way back in 2012-13, the final season of the Masai Ujiri-George Karl regime. That team went 57-25 and posted a plus-5.37 SRS – and was immediately torn down after losing in the first round of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. Maybe they’ll be a bit less hasty to pull the plug on PBO Tim Connelly and head coach Mike Malone if Denver don’t make another deep run this year. In the meantime, we’ll see the Nuggets in action this Thursday when they visit the Indiana Pacers (16-18 SU, 14-20 ATS), in the last game for both teams before the All-Star break. The Nugs have just opened as 4-point favorites on the NBA odds board at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review), but we’ve got our eyes on the total here at the ranch, and for good reason.
Several good reasons, in fact. One, the fine folks at FiveThirtyEight project Denver to win by four points, so if there’s any betting value in this matchup of two small-market teams with sub-.500 records against the spread, we have to look elsewhere. Two, the Nuggets have the Over at 23-12 this year, riding a combination of potent offense and middling defense. Take them out of the Mile High air in Denver, and the Over gets even better at 13-6. The Pacers (20-14-1 Over) have been doing things a bit differently. Their defense is a little better than Denver’s, and their offense considerably worse; on the plus side, Indiana rank No. 11 in the league in terms of pace, getting in 102.4 possessions per game. That’s one more possession than last year, and a good indicator of their approach under first-year head coach Nate Bjorkgren, former assistant to Nick Nurse with the 2018-19 champion Toronto Raptors.
Before we can make our NBA picks, we have to address the potential for shenanigans in this game. It’s the last game before the break, and the second in back-to-back days for the Pacers; they visited the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday and beat them 114-111 (Over 219) as 6-point favorites. Don’t be surprised if Indiana take it easy on their top players – especially Domantas Sabonis (plus-3.4 BPM), who’s going to the All-Star Game as an injury replacement for Kevin Durant. Sabonis led all Pacers against Cleveland with 38 minutes of floor time after being considered a game-time call with a sore left ankle. Nikola Jokic (plus-12.1 BPM) will also play in the ASG on Sunday, but the bigger concern for our purposes is all these injuries and coronavirus issues. For example, we don’t know whether back-up point guards Facundo Campazzo (minus-1.4 BPM) and R.J. Hampton (minus-5.9 BPM) will come off the COVID-19 list, and they’re both offensively challenged, so that’s information we’d like to have before pounding the NBA lines. Speaking of which, there’s a 225.5-point total on the board at Bovada; for now, we’ll recommend hitting that for a small sum, and may the sphere be with you.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.