New York at Denver
Time: 7 PM CST, Sunday (NBA TV)
Spread: DEN -10.5
Odds c.o 5dimes
The Denver Nuggets are 16-8 and in first-place of the Northwest Division as it hosts the visiting New York Knicks Sunday afternoon on NBA TV at 7 PM (CST). The Nuggets enter as winners of its last two and 10.5-point favorites over the Knicks in NBA odds. The betting total is set at 205.5 points according to oddsmakers at 5dimes.
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. He had 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists last outing against the Oklahoma City Thunder, to notch his fourth triple-double of this season. The Nuggets won 110-102, after defeating the Portland Trail Blazers 114-99 before that.
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 makeup for his slow feet. Jokic is averaging 16.7 points, 10.2 rebounds and a team-leading 6.5 assists per game while posting a PER of 21.56. 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 leading the way at 17 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 14.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game and is one of six Nuggets with a PER above the league average of 15 (17.03).
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. 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.
The New York Knicks are just 6-20 and 3-10 away from Madison Square Garden where it takes on the Nuggets in Denver today. The Knicks are 7.5 games behind the second-worst team in the Atlantic Division, and it also chose to fire coach David Fitzdale, who basically caustically remarked that there was not much he could do with such an imbalanced roster, so heavy in power forwards. There was no inaccuracy in that remark, for the Knicks have at least five players that all could start at power forward on teams in need of a 4.
Perhaps the Knicks will be active in February at the trade deadline, but for now, it is a team that does very few things well with precious few bright spots in a dreadful season thus far. New York is the league’s worst offensive team and averages just 101.1 points per game. That might be decent if the team slowed down the pace, but it has not.
Opponents rack up 111.2 per game against New York, and there are few excuses the Knicks can provide for being this poor. It even has a premier shot-blocker in Mitchell Robinson, who has basically had to share time with the low-upside, absolutely maxed-out-in-potential, Taj Gibson. Gibson is a tough proven performer, but with New York providing nothing close to a playoff push, it really seems the minutes should all be given to the future cornerstones, and Mitchell represents a major defensive force from the interior.
With a sheer lack of leadership on this roster, Marcus Morris has feasted on the dearth of chemistry and lack of ball movement. He averages a career-high 18.6 points per game this season, though he shoots a somewhat disgusting 42 percent from the field. Perplexingly, he is shooting 48.2 percent from three, though, where he attempts 5.8 per game.
The closest thing the Knicks really have to a silver lining though is that RJ Barrett appears to be the real deal as the future small forward of this team. Already starting, he is seeing 32.2 minutes per game and averaging 14 points, five rebounds and three assists per game. Barrett appears to have a knack for the game which should result in him only continuing to improve, but nothing can be taken for granted with a franchise that has stunted so many careers, and with Robinson suffering that fate currently, the Knicks have more than a disagreeing coach to contend with, but an entire league that has teamed with better chemistry and more talent than it.