Pacers to Cover Short Spread Tonight Against Nuggets

Jason Lake

Friday, November 14, 2014 1:31 PM UTC

Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 1:31 PM UTC

It looks like you can already stick a fork in the Denver Nuggets. They’ve only beaten the NBA odds once in seven games, while the Indiana Pacers bring a healthy 6-3 ATS record into Friday night’s game at the Fieldhouse.

Jason’s record as of Nov. 12: 5-3 ATS

Profit: plus-4.58 units

And we had such high hopes for the Denver Nuggets. Not high enough to put them in our Top 5 most undervalued teams for 2014-15, but we thought the return of so many injured players would help Denver improve on last year’s 36-46 campaign (39-43 ATS). The players are back, and sadly, it doesn’t look like they’ve recovered from their injuries. The Nuggets are 1-6 SU and ATS to start the new season. Ugly, just ugly.

We did have the Indiana Pacers (3-6 SU, 6-3 ATS) on our Top 5. Reaching that win total of 33 games will be more difficult after so many key rotation players ended up joining Paul George on the injured list, but the Pacers have stuck with the game plan. They’re outperforming the NBA odds, and they’ve even won back-to-back games as they prepare to host the Nuggets this Friday night (7:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV). Indiana is laying three points, up from two at the open. Let’s riggidy-roll.

There Goes the Rooster
Danilo Gallinari was a damn fine basketball player. He was the Italian League MVP in 2008 for Olimpia Milano, then he came to the NBA, played one game – and immediately went on the shelf with a back injury. But Gallinari eventually returned and became a valuable 3-point shooter for the Knicks. And versatile; at 6-foot-10, Gallinari played shooting guard, small forward and power forward in New York.

Until the trade that changed everything. Gallinari was part of the package Denver received in the 2011 Carmelo Anthony trade, along with Wilson Chandler, Ray Felton, Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos. What looked at first like a salary dump proved to be a major haul for then-GM Masai Ujiri; he would do the same thing two years later for the Toronto Raptors when he sent Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings. Denver went 57-25 SU and 49-32-1 ATS in 2012-13 with Gallinari (plus-2.3 BPM), Chandler (plus-0.7 BPM) and Koufos (plus-1.3 BPM) playing major roles.

Ah, but Gallinari didn’t make it all the way to the finish line. He tore his knee in early April and ended up missing the entire 2013-14 season as well. And Chandler wasn’t quite the same player he was before the torn hip labrum he suffered just after arriving in Denver. As for Ujiri, he left for greener pastures, and George Karl was fired despite winning Coach of the Year honors. With Brian Shaw in his first year as an NBA head coach, and Gallinari (and Koufos) nowhere in sight, the Nuggets missed the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.

Stay the Course
Now Denver has to tear it down for real this time. The Nuggets as they stand are damaged goods, and besides, they were put together for the offensive-minded Karl, not the defensive-minded Shaw. Which brings us to the Indiana Pacers. They’re going through some horrible personnel issues, horrible enough that Chris Copeland (15.6 points per game) is now their leading scorer. But at least these issues are all happening under the careful stewardship of president Larry Bird, GM Kevin Pritchard, and head coach Frank Vogel.

There’s something to be said for Indiana basketball. Roy Hibbert (plus-2.8 BPM) is back to dominating the center position, partly because he’s the only guy left from last year’s starting five, but he’s getting quality support nonetheless from Lavoy Allen (plus-3.5 BPM), and the other replacement Pacers are at least holding up their end on defense. Indiana is No. 6 in the league in defensive efficiency at 99.6 points allowed per 100 possessions. Denver is No. 26 (108.6) despite Shaw’s best efforts. We’re putting Indiana in our NBA picks this Friday.

The Five Stars
Depth/Travel/Rest: DEN
Defense: IND
Coaching: IND
Market Bias: DEN
Betting Line Value: IND

Verdict: 1-star pick on IND

Free NBA Pick: Bet 1.4 units on the Pacers –2.5 at Guardian

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