NBA Betting Preview: Portland Trailblazers at Denver Nuggets

Portland Trailblazers AT Denver Nuggets
Jan 2, 2011 at 9 PM EST
Opening Line:  Denver -7
Current Line:  Denver -8
Opening Total:  203.5
Current Total: 204
Opening Moneyline: Den -385 / Por +345
Current Moneyline:  Den -420 / Por +310

Batum may frustrate the offensively gifted Carmelo Anthony

To say Denver has Portland’s number at home might be a bit of an understatement.  The Nuggets, though they are riding a two game losing streak, have beaten Portland in 15 of their last 16 home games and are 20-5 at home this season overall.  For the moment, Carmelo seems to be focused on what he can still do to help Denver.  The consummate pro went for 37 points last game, despite Denver losing.  He’ll have a tougher matchup against Nicolas Batum, who is regarded as one of the better wing defenders in the league.

LaMarcus Aldridge has been playing some amazing basketball for the Blazers, though he commented on national TV that he didn’t think it would be enough to make the All-Star team as a reserve.  Aldridge did have a couple bad games, but followed it up last game with a 16 for 23 shooting night against the Spurs.  “Tonight it just felt good,” he said.

Portland coach Nate McMillan was very pleased with the way they handled the Spurs.  “Real good win for this team to beat the best team in the league,” he said. “Those days off I thought really seemed like they helped our guys.”

Some betting trends:

Portland is 6-2 SU in their last 8 games and 6-14 SU in their last 20 road games.  The total has gone UNDER in 7 of the last 10 games against Denver and they are 7-18 SU in their last 25 against Denver.  Portland is 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games against the Nuggets and 0-5 ATS in their last 5 road games against Denver.  The total has gone OVER In 11 of the last 16 games on the road in Denver.

The total has gone OVER IN 5 of Denver’s last 5 games and they are 4-2 SU in their last 6 games.  The total has gone OVER In 4 of their last 6 at home and they are 5-1 SU in their last 6 at home.  The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Denver’s last 10 against Portland and they are 18-7 SU in their last 25 games against the Blazers.

Key Matchups:

Kenyon Martin & Shelden Williams vs LaMarcus Aldridge

Kenyon Martin is clearly a shell of the player he once was coming off the litany of injuries he has suffered, and while Shelden Williams is a tough interior defender, they will both have problems covering Aldridge on the perimeter where he does so much of his damage.  He’s shooting 48.7% from the floor, with a wide variety of jumpers and mid range shots mixed into his repitoire.  He’s also hitting the boards harder than in years’ past, averaging 1.6 more rebounds than his career average of 7.4.  Also a nice addition to his game, he has begun to block some shots and averages both more than one steal (1.1) and one block (1.2) per game, showing his versatility as a defender.  I don’t expect Martin and Williams to come any where near matching Aldridge’s point total tonight and they will be very lucky to hold him under 30.

Carmelo Anthony vs. Nicolas Batum

Anthony didn’t play the last two times these teams met, but in the game before that against Batum he went for only 18 points on 5 of 15 shooting from the floor.  Batum has a 7’+ wingspan and is able to stay in front of most of the small forwards in the league without a problem.  Expect his defense to frustrate Anthony and likely hold him below his season average.  Batum nearly matched his offensive output with 14 points of his own that game, and Portland won by 3.

With Denver’s history of success at home against the Blazers, it’s easy to see why NBA oddsmakers have set the line in their favor.  However, if Batum can contain Carmelo and Aldridge can get off to a big night, this could be an upset.

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