76ers at Nuggets Picks and NBA Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 3/21/2013
Has an NBA team with a 13-game winning streak ever been more overlooked than the Denver Nuggets? Because of a certain NBA Championship team in South Florida, the Nuggets usually aren't even shown in the first half of SportsCenter. It's the first time two teams have active winning streaks of at least 13 games (Miami went for No. 24 in Cleveland on Wednesday). Thanks to this winning run, Denver is making a major play for the No. 3 seed in the West and home-court advantage at least in Round 1. No team wants to play in Denver, where the Nuggets are tied with Miami for the NBA's best home record at 30-3.
The irony of this meeting is that many believed the 76ers did very well in the four-team Dwight Howard trade this offseason that netted them Andrew Bynum and in which they sent all-star Andre Iguodala to Denver, among other pieces. Bynum was expected to be the East's top center, but he will not play a game for the Sixers this year. He was officially ruled out this week after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. It turned out as one of the worst trades in recent NBA history for Philly, which now might have to commit some $80 million to a major injury risk just to keep Bynum when he hits free agency this summer. Iguodala, meanwhile, has fit in seamlessly with the uber-athletic and up-tempo Nuggets. You could argue Denver got the best of the trade for this season, and that includes the Lakers getting Howard.
76ers at Nuggets Betting Story Lines
By the way, a Heat-Nuggets NBA Finals matchup is +1000 on Sportsbook.ag. Denver is +800 to win the West, still well behind the Thunder (+180), Spurs (+250), Clippers (+700) and tied with the Lakers.
In this winning streak, the longest for the team since it was in the ABA, Denver has taken care of a handful of playoff teams. It beat the Lakers by 11, the Hawks by 16, the Clippers by 15, the Knicks by 23 in Carmelo Anthony's return, the Grizzlies by seven and the Thunder by two in Denver and 10 in OKC on Tuesday night. That last win was easily the most impressive considering Denver was just 16-19 on the road (the Thunder were 30-4 at home) and that it played an overtime game in Chicago on Monday. The Thunder are 1-3 against Denver this season, so you know they don't want a No. 2 vs. No. 3 matchup in the West semifinals.
While Denver has some good perimeter players in Ty Lawson, Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, Andre Miller and Wilson Chandler, no team scores more in the paint. The Nugs had 72 on Tuesday against Oklahoma City in that zone, the most the Thunder have allowed all season. Denver has outscored its opposition 50 straight games in the paint, by far the longest streak since the league began keeping track 16 years ago.
Lawson is on the cusp of joining the elite point guards in the NBA and is averaging 18.4 points (51.9 percent from the field) and 6.0 assists this month. Chandler also has been terrific this month, averaging 15.5 points (55 percent from field) and 4.9 rebounds from the field. Both guys are banged up, however. Lawson has a bruised heel but obviously played Tuesday. He's day-to-day, and I expect him to go Thursday. Chandler probably misses some time with a first degree left shoulder AC joint separation. That means Corey Brewer gets a major uptick in minutes. Denver is 23-4 with Chandler in the lineup in 2013 (he missed almost all of the 2012 portion of the schedule and a sizable chunk of January).
The Sixers are dead-men walking but actually have won three of four after dropping 12 of their previous 13. All four wins came at home, however. They have not won on the road since winning at the Lakers on New Year's Day -- 13 straight losses entering Wednesday's game at the Clippers, the team's longest road skid since 1987-88.
Denver opened the season in Philadelphia, with the Sixers winning, 84-75. How long ago was that? Bynum got a standing ovation from the crowd when he was introduced -- now he's incredibly unpopular in the city because fans don't believe he gave much effort to return (and hurt himself bowling). Gallinari missed the game for Denver, which hadn't scored less than 80 points since April 15, 2009.
76ers at Nuggets NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
The Sixers (all trends entering Wednesday) are 31-34-1 ATS (12-17 on road) and 32-31-3 “over/under “(8-18-3 on road). The Nuggets are 43-25-1 ATS (24-9 at home) and 40-28-1 O/U (17-16 at home).
The 76ers have covered just four of their past 13 road games. They are 0-4 ATS in their past four on Thursday. Denver has covered its past four against teams with a winning percentage below .400. The over is 4-1 in Philly's past five in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 5-1 in Denver's past six at home. Philly has covered five of the past six in Denver. The over has hit in seven of the past 10 meetings there.
76ers at Nuggets Picks and Betting Predictions
In some ways, this sets up as a trap game for Denver. Yes, it's back home but also off two huge road wins back-to-back. Plus, you have the Lawson and Chandler injuries. But the Sixers have to play the dreaded second half of their back-to-back in the thin air and mostly have given up. Philadelphia is 3-13 in the second half of back-to-backs this season, although it did thump Brooklyn in its last one. Philly may hang around for three quarters or so, but the deep Nuggets will run the Sixers ragged eventually. Take Denver and the over.
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