Washington at Denver
Time: 8 PM ET
TV: NBA TV
Spread: WAS -3
Betting odds c/o Bovada
The Wizards are 18-6 at home this season, and John Wall has been arguably the best point guard in the NBA up to this point. The Wiz are 5th in the NBA in assists per game, of which Wall contributes 10 per game, to go with his 17 points, two steals. NBA odds favor the Wizards by 3-points on the road in one of the toughest arenas to play, Denver’s Pepsi Center.
The NBA live odds feature a total set at 204, a reflection of two teams that can score the ball and get a shootout going. Bettors will be wise to consider the ‘over’ on this, given that Washington alone scores 99.5 points per game and the Nuggs will push the pace.
Wall boasts a 2.7/1 Assist to Turnover ratio, while posting the highest PER of any Wizard (20.8). Bradley Beal has become the marksman he was billed to be, averaging 14.8 points per game while shooting 44.1 percent from three-point range.
The addition of Paul Pierce has given the Wizards another scorer, age notwithstanding. Pierce is only seeing 26 minutes a game, but his veteran presence is a nice asset; and it’s not as though any NBA team could turn down 12.7 points per game off the bench.
Pierce ranks third in Wizards scoring, ahead of starters Marcin Gortat and Nene Hilario.
Gortat has an outside chance at a coach’s pick for the All-Star team. After having served as Dwight Howard’s backup for the first part of his career, he’s blossomed since leaving Orlando. Gortat had a nice stint in Phoenix and this season is averaging 12 points, eight rebounds and nearly two blocks/steals per game. Paired with a lot of depth in the frontcourt (Kris Humphries, Kevin Seraphin) gives the Wizards a balanced team between perimeter play and tough big men.
The Wizards are a legit threat to win the Eastern Conference, and proving it against a top Western Conference team tonight would be a slight statement that the mediocre teams in the West pose no challenge to Eastern Conference contending squads.
Denver is just 18-25, and the team is still searching for an identity. Dealing Timofey Mozgov will prove to be a shot in the foot, and he’s going to go on to fulfill the Cleveland Cavaliers’ need for a 5-man.
The OKC Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers knocked off Denver in the past two games, though Denver took the Thunder to OT before falling to Kevin Durant and his 34 points. Steven Adams of the Thunder also ripped down 20 boards, and the Nuggets have a lack of interior strength with the departure of Mozgov and lack of depth in the frontline; Kenneth Faried can’t do everything.
Denver had been ranked No. 3 in the NBA in rebounding, but that is contingent upon a full and healthy roster. Timofey left 7.8 boards that have to be accounted for, but what keeps Denver in games is the fact that J.J. Hickson, Wilscon Chandler and Jusuf Nurkic all offer about six boards a game or more.
Ty Lawson is the Nuggets’ premier scorer and is capable of doing a lot of damage when he gets hot, but most ignore his great ability to get his teammates involved. The former UNC Tar Heel is averaging nearly 10 assists per game while posting a PER of 18.8, the highest of any Nugget. Arron Afflalo is not shooting the ball in his typical form. He’s generally good for about 48-50 percent from the floor but is knocking down under 44 percent, while hitting just 34.7 percent from three, a mark that is typically close to 40 percent. His affective field goal percentage is 50, nearly the same as Lawson who typically has to take a lot of late shot lock forced looks.
Kenneth Faried may find himself elsewhere at the trade deadline, if only because he offers the most value to other teams. With the Nuggets far from contention in the West, Nuggets brass may roll the dice on the acquisition of a high draft pick in a class stacked with big men. The dealing of Mozgov may indicate that the Nuggets value one of the five great big men in the 2015 draft.
It’s a bit early to speculate with one deal and one merely suspected, but Denver will be transitioning after a clear indication that the deep, starless team (that followed the dealing of Carmelo Anthony) will not be enough in the stacked Western Conference.