On Sunday, the Portland Trail Blazers head into the most difficult arena to play in in the NBA to take on the Denver Nuggets. The winner advances to the Western Conference Finals, the loser goes home. Portland already staved off elimination in Game 6, picking up a crucial home win to force the decisive Game 7.
In Game 6, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum each reached the 30-point plateau, but the real star was Rodney Hood. Hood came off the bench and put up 25 points, more than half of which he scored before the halftime break.
On the other side, Denver didn’t have a bad game, necessarily. Every Nuggets starter posted at least 10 points in the contest, but it was the defense that changed. In Denver’s Game 5 obliteration of Portland, the Nuggets held the Blazers’ starting five to a combined 49 points, and no starter finished better than -15 on a plus/minus rating. In Game 6, that was obviously very different, as Lillard and McCollum combined for over 60 points just between them.
Denver was the top team in the NBA during the regular season when it came to their record at home. The Nuggets have also already won a Game 7 at home during this postseason, as Denver beat San Antonio 90-86 to cap off Round 1. I’m somewhat tempted to take Portland +5½ for this game, but only a third of games in this series have had a margin of victory of five points or less. If you like the Nuggets to win, for the same reason I might suggest considering taking Denver -5½ to increase your potential payout.
Denver isn’t a good value at -220 odds on the money line and, considering I picked Portland to win this series before the round began, I wouldn’t be willing to take the risk for such a small potential reward. These teams are much more evenly-matched than that -220 suggests, which is why I’d pick Portland to win (+190) as a value play.
Drew has been covering sports professionally since 2007, covering sports of all kinds in the ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Conference USA. In addition to covering college sports, he also spent two seasons working with the NHL's Florida Panthers as part of their TV broadcast team, as well as reporting and anchoring for AT&T SportsNet and FOX Sports affiliates, CBS Sports Network and ESPNU. Drew has also ...
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