Friday’s NBA schedule brings 10 games, but the best game of the night is probably the last one. The Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers are set to do battle in downtown Los Angeles in a contest between teams battling it out for the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference.
Entering Friday’s game, Denver holds a one-game lead over LA for that second seed. The Nuggets are 5.5 games behind the top-seeded Lakers, while the Clippers are 6.5 back. The two teams will square off one more time after tonight in Denver on March 18. If the Nuggets win Friday night in LA, they will clinch the head-to-head tiebreaker for the season, which could be massively important for playoff seeding.
Denver enters the game as winners of 6 of their last 8 games overall, while the Clippers are 5-5 over their last 10 games. The Clips are currently listed as 6.5-point favorites at MyBookie in a game with a 219.5 over/under.
Both teams are fully healthy, only benchwarmer Noah Vonleh (Nuggets) is listed as questionable
Clippers are 31-27-0 against the spread this season, Nuggets are 27-27-4
Nuggets beat Clippers 114-104 in Denver on January 12
Clippers’ Lack of Consistency
The fact that the Clippers have the third-best record in the Western Conference is pretty impressive considering the injuries they’ve dealt with all year. Kawhi Leonard hasn’t played both halves of a back-to-back as the team continues to manage his workload. Paul George has played just 36 games this season due to a combination of shoulder and hamstring issues. Others, like Patrick Beverley and Landry Shamet, have missed games with a variety of maladies.
The Clippers are also trying to incorporate a pair of new acquisitions on the fly. Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson give LAC arguably more depth than any other team in basketball, but this team is going to be a work-in-progress down the stretch of the season due to the lack of continuity. This roster just hasn’t played together all that often, which will be a disadvantage for them come playoff time.
Regardless, most believe this is a championship-caliber team. The Clippers have been among the odds-on favorites to win the championship this season since Leonard and George arrived over the summer.
They’ve beaten the Lakers in both of their head-to-head meetings so far this season, and many believe the West will ultimately come down to which LA team can best the other.
George was sidelined due to injury in the first and only matchup between the Clippers and Nuggets on the season to this point. Kawhi led the way for LAC with 30 points, while Lou Williams (26) and Montrezl Harrell (25) also chimed in. However, no other Clipper even reached double figures in scoring as the team mustered just 104 points.
The Nuggets have something to say about the West coming down to the Los Angeles teams. Denver was battling it out with the Golden State Warriors atop the conference for most of last season, and they seem to have taken something of a step forward in 2019-20.
Nikola Jokic began the season in a slump, but he has been playing his best basketball of his entire career over the past couple of months. The Clippers are deep, but they don’t really have someone capable of dealing with Jokic defensively. The big man put up 20 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists in the last matchup with the Clips, and so far in February he’s posted averages of 26 points, 10.1 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. He has been on an absolute tear, and nobody seems to have noticed.
What’s interesting about Denver is that they have a 40-18 record, but their point differential tells a different story. The Nuggets have a point differential of plus-3.9 so far this season, which is only the fifth-best mark in the conference behind the Lakers, Mavericks, Clippers and Rockets. They’re only barely ahead of Oklahoma City (plus-3.2).
Both the Clippers and Nuggets rank in the top-10 in the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency, which should lead to an entertaining matchup.
Nuggets vs Clippers Pick
I have a really hard time imagining this game getting out of hand in either direction. I think the Clippers are ultimately the better team, but the Nuggets are more cohesive as of now. Betting on the Nuggets to steal the win away from home is somewhat appealing at +210 on the moneyline. Denver quietly has one of the best straight-up road records (17-11) in basketball this season.
My preference is to take Denver to cover the 6 points, though. I feel like these two teams are generally evenly-matched as things stand today, so I’m a little surprised the spread is as wide as it is. The Nuggets pose certain matchup problems for the Clippers that they don’t usually have to deal with, so I like Denver to stick around and turn this game into a slugfest.
Bet on the Nuggets to cover the 6.5-point spread on Friday night in LA.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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