Portland at Denver
Time: 8 PM CST (NBA LP)
Spread: DEN -5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Portland Trail Blazers have won its last four overall SU to climb to 23-27 and trail No. 8 Memphis by just two games in the Western Conference standings. Portland is 10-16 on the road where it faces the Denver Nuggets as 5-point underdogs in NBA action on NBA League Pass. The game will tip-off at 8 PM (CST) and has a point total set at 225.5 according to NBA league oddsmakers at 5dimes.
PORTLAND news & notes:
Portland has gone 7-3 SU over its last 10 games, and at 23-27 it trails the No.8 seeded Memphis Grizzlies by two games for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.
Carmelo Anthony has been the headliner for news in Portland, and the free-agent acquisition seems to be nothing but good for the Blazers’ rotation. Melo is averaging 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in 32 minutes a night through his first 23 games (all of which he has started). It has pushed Mario Hezonja back out of the starting lineup, where he was having his struggles. The Blazers also seemed to legitimately have added a true No. 3 option behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who combine to average 48.8 points and 11.4 assists per game in the backcourt.
The Blazers are arguably a better team on paper this year than last, but injuries have prevented it all from fully translating. Hassan Whiteside is something of an upgrade over the injured Jusef Nurkic, but losing Zach Collins to injury was a bit of a blow to a team thin on frontcourt depth. Rodney Hood has been a pleasant surprise as a second-unit scorer, though, with his 50.6 percent shooting and 11 points per game. The Blazers simply need a healthy roster before it can build the chemistry and momentum that it really should.
DEN NEWS & NOTES:
The Denver Nuggets are playing better, and as one would guess it mostly relates to a turnaround on the part of its star center Nikola Jokic.
Some have criticized Jokic for his poor conditioning, but it is hard to ignore the fact that he continues to play good basketball overall while using his immense skills to more than make up for his slow feet. Jokic is averaging 19.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and a team-leading 6.4 assists per game while posting a PER of 24.80. He also recently posted a 47-point game, so while Jokic may never appear to do anything too quickly, he does make the right moves and can be a dominant center in an era that does not even favor big men.
The Nuggets are led in scoring by Jamal Murray, who many expected to make a still-bigger leap following his outstanding postseason performances in 2019.
Instead, Murray is the second-leading at 17.6 points per game, and ranking No. 2 in assists at 4.6 per. Will Barton continues to look like a poor man’s Kevin Durant, providing a lot of shooting on the wing and a fearless trigger. Barton averages 14.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game and is one of five Nuggets with a PER above the league average of 15 (17.17).
The Nuggets are a deep team on paper, but it is still really not testing out the talents of Michael Porter Jr that much, and Malik Beasley has seen his role decline this season as well. Gary Harris and Barton both see over 32 minutes per game, leaving the backups to fight over the remaining minutes, leaving some good talents to sit, naturally. Juancho Hernangomez has had his role decline, though he still averages four points per game in just 13 minutes a night. Michael Porter Jr. led the Nuggets in scoring last game with 19 points, and if he is able to come on strong and stay healthy, Denver could be “scary good.”
The Nuggets will eventually likely decided on a shorter rotation, but for the time being there are 11 Nuggets who play at least 14 minutes per game. It is a team loaded with talent, but both of its top scoring options are probably not true No. 1 options on a contending team, and that includes Jokic. The Nuggets have great team chemistry, but one wonders if its lack of true star power might not hurt it. While Nikola Jokic and Murray function quite well as a tandem, it seems Denver would be better delegating more responsibility to one or the other, to develop a true 1A option, especially late in games.