Clippers at Nuggets Picks and NBA Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 3/7/2013
Short of perhaps playing in Oklahoma City one night and then having to travel to Miami to face the Heat the next evening, the toughest second game of a back-to-back in the NBA these days is playing wherever on the first night and then having to face the Nuggets in their gym the next. I've said this before and will repeat it: The altitude gives Denver a huge advantage, even more so over a tired team. It's why the Nuggets always have been and likely always will be an up-tempo team as it plays to that advantage. If you've ever gone hiking or skiing near Denver, you would understand how the thin air wears you out and leaves you dehydrated.
It's conceivable that the Clippers and Nuggets meet in the first round of the West playoffs. As things currently stand they wouldn't as L.A. is the No. 3 seed entering Wednesday and Denver No. 5. The Nuggets shouldn't drop lower than No. 5 and are just a game behind Memphis for the No. 4 seed and three behind the Clippers for No. 3. I could easily see these two finishing No. 4 and 5 in the conference in whatever order and facing off in a terrific conference quarterfinals series.
Clippers at Nuggets Betting Story Lines
The Clippers played Wednesday night at home against Milwaukee and are looking to bounce back from Sunday's 108-104 home loss to the Thunder that ended L.A.'s four-game winning streak. One Clippers weakness showed in that defeat as Los Angeles shot just 50 percent inside the paint, dropping to 2-10 when being held to 50 percent or worse in that zone. The Clippers shoot 60.2 percent in the paint in their wins this season.
Denver won 120-113 on Tuesday in perhaps its final-ever visit to Sacramento for its sixth straight win. Ty Lawson had 24 points and Danilo Gallinari 23 as the Nuggets scored 70 second-half points on 64.3 percent shooting. When the streaking Gallinari is shooting well -- he was 7-for-11 overall and 5-for-6 from long range on Tuesday -- the Nuggets are extremely hard to beat. Tuesday was easily his best game since missing two with a thigh injury; he had 14 combined points in two previous games since returning. Lawson has been playing great, averaging 23.3 points and 7.7 assists in the past 10 games.
At home, Denver has won 11 straight and has a 26-3 mark, which ties Miami for the best record in the NBA (Heat should go to 27-3 on Wednesday vs. Orlando). The Nuggets beat the Clippers 92-78 in Denver on New Year's Day as one-point favorites (total 207). Gallinari led six players in double figures with 17 points (Lawson was out injured). That game was notable because it ended the Clippers' franchise-record 17-game winning streak, the longest in the NBA this season, at least until this weekend when Miami may surpass it. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul combined for only 22 points on 8-for-20 from the field. No Clipper had more than 12 points.
It should be noted that the Clippers didn't have former Colorado star and ex-Nugget Chauncey Billups in that game or in their 112-100 home win over Denver on Christmas Day. Gallinari was terrible in that one, shooting 1-for-10 for seven points. Jamal Crawford led L.A. with 22 points as the Clippers bench put up a season-high 64 points. The 36-year-old Billups has played just 13 games this season after surgery to repair his left Achilles' tendon and tendinitis in his left foot. The team is 10-3 with him in the lineup, with the losses coming to title contenders Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Miami. Billups, the starting shooting guard, is averaging 7.9 points and remains on a minutes limit of about 25. He has struggled the past four games, shooting 4-for-20 from the field.
Clippers at Nuggets NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, the Nuggets have been opened as 3.5-point favorites with the total at 213. The Clippers (all trends entering Wednesday) are 35-27 ATS (17-15 on road) and 33-29 “over/under” (15-17 on road). The Nuggets are 37-24-1 ATS (20-9 at home) and 38-24 O/U (16-13 at home).
The Clippers have covered their past five road games. They are 4-1 in their past five in the second of a back-to-back. The Nuggets are 10-1 ATS in their past 11 road games against teams with a winning road record. They have covered seven of their past eight home games. Denver is 1-4 ATS in its past five Thursday games. The over is 8-2 in L.A.'s past 10 in the second of a back-to-back. The over is 11-2 in Denver's past 13 playing on one day of rest. The Clippers have covered five of the past six in Denver. The under is 9-4 in the past 13 meetings.
Clippers at Nuggets Picks and Betting Predictions
Both these teams have winning records against the teams with the Top-10 records in the NBA, with the Clippers tied at No. 2 behind only Miami. While L.A. has one of the NBA's best road records at 20-12, it's just asking too much to win in Denver on the second of a back-to-back. At .896, the Nuggets are in position to have their best home winning percentage in franchise history; the mark is.878 (36-5) set in 1976-77, the team's first season in the NBA. Take Denver and the over in what should an entertaining, high-scoring game like the teams' first meeting, not the most recent.
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