Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Apr. 15:
25-29-1 ATS, 0-4 ML (minus-9.35 units), 34-21-1 Totals
San Antonio (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) at Denver (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS)
Free NBA Pick: Over
Recommended Sportsbook: 5Dimes
Well, we did say that experience matters once the playoffs roll around. The San Antonio Spurs have all the experience in their first-round series with the Denver Nuggets, and they made it pay in Saturday’s opener, beating the Nuggets 101-96 as 5.5-point road dogs. But take a closer look: The Nuggets shot 6-of-28 from long range. The Spurs shot 7-of-15. That’s begging for some regression to the mean for Tuesday’s rematch.
Naturally, the sharps have jumped on that carcass and picked off the best meat. Denver opened as a 6-point favorite on the NBA odds board for Game 2, and they’ve already been bet up to –7 as we go to press. That’s still a bargain price according to the projections at FiveThirtyEight, which have the Nuggets pegged at –9.5. But we’re going in a different direction here at the home office: We’re taking the ‘over’ on the total of 208 points.
We had some success during last year’s playoffs riding the infamous “see-saw’ with teams who shot poorly from downtown in their previous game. These are high-variance shots, and while the Spurs did play well on defense in Game 1, Denver missed a ton of open looks. But we’re going to be focused more on the totals for this year’s postseason NBA picks, since that’s where the profit margins seem to be holding up for us.
Getting the ‘over’ at 208 points is a godsend. The “official’ total for Game 1 was 210.5 points, although many books closed at 211. Yes, Saturday’s opener slid below that total by a fair amount, but look at Denver’s 3-point percentage again. That wasn’t all San Antonio’s doing. Jamal Murray (plus-1.1 OBPM, minus-1.0 DBPM) usually hits 36.7 percent of his trey attempts; he went 0-for-6. Nikola Jokic (plus-5.7 OBPM, plus-3.8 DBPM) is a viable stretch-5 at 30.7 percent; he went 0-for-3. These things happen.
We also haven’t seen the same feeding frenzy on the total that we have on the spread. The consensus reports at press time show 60-percent of early bettors on Denver, while the total is split down the middle and holding firm at 208 – a handful of locations have it at 208.5. This could be a lovely spot to make the classic 2-team parlay with the ‘over’ and the favorite, and the Nuggets are still available at –6.5 as I write this, so feel free to expand your horizons and make both picks – as well as any halftime lines that look juicy to you.