Rebounding Edge Key in 76ers-Nuggets Clash Saturday

Jay Pryce

Saturday, December 30, 2017 2:24 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017 2:24 PM UTC

The red-hot Denver Nuggets are 7.5-point favorites to top the tumbling Philadelphia 76ers at Pepsi Center Saturday night (9 p.m. ET). Each team plays at their best behind strong defenses. Expect a shot-blocking battle tonight. Pick and preview this way.

Philadelphia 76ers at Denver Nuggets (-7.5)

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Free NBA Pick: Under 216Best Line Offered: at Heritage 76ers (15-19 SU, 17-16-1 ATS): Winter Blues; Simmons and Embiid the Difference-Makers

The 76ers have hit the skids. Since December 2, they are 2-10 SU and ATS. Philly is losing by 4.4 points per game in this span, despite tipping off at a pick ‘em on average on the NBA oddsboard.

The difference is a leaky defense. The Sixers yield 111.2 points per game in this stretch as opposed to 107.8 prior. Successfully guarding the perimeter is a big issue. Teams are draining 38.1 percent from behind the arc. Do note that center Joel Embiid has missed five of the 12 contests due to back tightness and rest. In the games the rim protector suited up, Philly allows 109.6 points per game on 43.1 percent shooting, putting the numbers closer to its season averages.

Offensively, the Sixers need Ben Simmons to produce. The former No.1 overall pick out of LSU is emerging as one of the most versatile point guards in the league, averaging 16.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 7.6 assists per game. Philly averages 109.1 points per game when Simmons puts up 14 points or more in a contest. It is 11-12 SU and 13-9-1 ATS overall. The team slumps to 103.0 per night and a 3-7 SU and ATS mark when scoring fewer.

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— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 29, 2017
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Nuggets (19-16 SU, 18-17 ATS): Denver Defense Surging, More Jamal Murray Please

Denver has covered the spread in eight of their last nine games, beating a 2.4 average line by a whopping 9.4 points per game. Defense is peaking, allowing just 100.3 points per night. The team has held more than half their opponents to 95 or fewer in this span, which included some high-scoring opponents like the Warriors (81), Pistons (84), and Thunder (95). In their last five games, the Nuggets own the fourth-most efficient unit in the NBA, yielding 104.6 points per 100 possessions.

Jamal Murray is also feeling it of late. The second-year point guard is averaging 19.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 33.7 minutes per game in the last nine contests. The Nuggets are 7-1 SU and ATS at Pepsi Center when Murray scores more than 10 points this season. They average 118.4 points per game as opposed to 104.0 in seven he scored less. Philly would be wise to attempt to slow down this threat.

Pick:

The Nuggets rely on a ton of putback points, ranking second in the NBA in offensive rebounding rate (27.3). They tend to underperform in scoring versus opponents that can match them on the boards. Versus teams yanking down 44.5 rebounds or more per game, the Nuggets are just 6-8 SU and 5-9 ATS, averaging 103.6 points per night, 5.3 less than projected. Philly enters as the top rebounding team in the NBA collecting 48 a game. Look for the Sixers to keep Denver to less than 110 points in the matchup. The ‘under’ is 17-4 on the year when the Nuggets stay south of this number. That’s our best bet tonight.

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