The NBA season is still in its early stages and both these Western Conference teams are feeling their way. NBA basketball handicappers have questions about both squads which will require more time to answer.
At this juncture, Denver is seeking a real identity and Portland is making an effort to be a better defensive team which could help come playoff time. Let’sexamine each team to see who is the better club against the betting odds for tonight’s contest.
Denver Once Again Seeking Identity
The word coming into the season was the Nuggets had a deep roster with many flexible parts they could use on a nightly basis to create matchup problems for opposing teams. Yet to this point Coach Brian Shaw looks like a person sitting at a table with 1,000 puzzle pieces and is not quite sure where to start.
Denver is 1-4 SU and ATS and has been outscored by 7.7 points a game. Having J.J. Hickson back from a five-game suspension will help, but there is a deeper issue that those making NBA picks need to know before backing this team.
What kind of team should the Denver Nuggets be? Should they be a medium-paced club, an inside-out bunch or a high-octane, quick-hitting crew? The talent is there to play any of those styles, but that would more playing time for certain players and less for others who might expect more minutes.
Timofey Mozgov, Jusef Nurkic, Javale McGee, Kenneth Faried, Arron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari can all post up. Aaron Afflalo, Randy Foye and Chandler can catch-and-shoot. Ty Lawson is best from rim to rim and Hickson is an expert as the roll guy in screen-roll action. Darrell Arthur is a pick-and-pop player.
Coach Shaw needs to decide or this is a rudderless ship like we have seen thus far.
Portland Seeking New Identity
Coming into the season, those looking over the NBA odds and preparing to make their sports picks were aware Portland had talent.
Players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Damian Lillard and Wesley Mathews are now proven commodities. However, with success comes expectations and those in Rip City want to see not only more victories but playing on the same level of the Spurs, Thunder (pre-injury jinx) and Clippers.
As usual, the Trail Blazers have started strong at home with a 3-1 SU and ATS mark but major difference is their defense.
Portland is fourth in points allowed at 93.7 PPG, which is a sensational eight points lower than what their opponents have averaged thus far. The Blazers last season allowed 103.7 PPG, but have slowed the pace on both ends of the floor trying to become a more traditional playoff caliber team under coach Terry Stotts, while always knowing they have the extra gear to play faster on offense where they can score in bunches.
The early line from sportsbooks has Portland at -9 with a total of 206.
Portland lost to the L.A. Clippers yesterday 106 to 102. The Blazers are home five of the next six games with the only away contest a return match with the Nuggets this Wednesday. Denver lost to Cleveland on Friday 110-101 as 6.5-point home underdogs are playing just two games in a five day period, both against Portland.
Head to Head
Portland swept the season series last year 4-0, splitting the oddsmakers numbers. Overall the Trail Blazers are 5-3 and 6-2 ATS the last two years with the totals even at 4-4.
Despite how Denver is playing, this line seems too high to consider for your NBA pick. The Nuggets have their problems but still have talent and are more rested, while Portland has no rest. I also have to consider the matchup and the underdog is 6-1-1 ATS and the road team is 6-0-1 against the spread. Take dysfunctional Denver with the points.
NBA Basketball Free Pick: Denver +9 at 5Dimes