This is the first game of an unusual Monday NBA regular season doubleheader on ESPN. The first contest features playoff-bound Denver at Philadelphia to kick things off.
Denver begins the day as the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, having lost two straight at home after winning 10 of 11. There is value in trying to move ahead of Dallas in the standings because the Nuggets (40-28, 29-37-2 ATS) would rather get into a 4/5 playoff matchup with the Mavericks or Utah rather than face Golden State or Memphis.
When Philadelphia acquired James Harden, most assumed the Sixers were on their way to the one seed in the Eastern Conference. Being just a game behind Miami in the loss column, the 76ers (41-25, 32-34 ATS) can definitely catch the Heat, yet, they have been far from impressive recently at 1-4 ATS. Having to come from behind to beat Orlando yesterday 116-114 in overtime illustrates that point.
Denver Nuggets vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Monday, March 14, 2022 – 07:30 PM EDT at Wells Fargo Center
The opening betting odds at BetMGM had Philadelphia as a 3.5-point home favorite with a total of 221.5.
Denver’s Pedestrian Defense Needs Consistent Effort
Denver fans have been hopeful Jamal Murray would return at some point this season, however, the latest reports have that as a 50-50 proposition, and ultimately, what can he offer after being almost a full year, especially on defense.
The Nuggets do not have any all-NBA defensive performers or anything close, ranking 22nd in field goal percentage defense, though a more respectable 17th in defensive efficiency. The real trouble for Denver is inside the arc where they rank 27th and permit opposing teams to connect on 54.7%.
It’s not that the Nuggets cannot play defense, rather, on any given night you never know what to expect. And without Murray and Michael Porter Jr., the offense is good enough. Because of Nikola Jokic, they are 12th in scoring, just not much dependable star power.
To upset a team like Philadelphia, the Nuggets have to get in front of shooters better and take away passing lanes inside the two-point area.
Interesting to See How Philadelphia Plays This Game
Off their strenuous two-point win over Orlando yesterday, the first thing everyone making NBA picks wonders is how Philadelphia plays with rest and here the answer is. Philly is 3-4 SU and ATS, with a 3.4 score differential.
The next aspect is who will play for the 76ers. Doc Rivers this week discussed the need for Joel Embiid, James Harden, and their teammates to play together before the playoffs commence, but he also said that would not happen at the expense of his main two stars getting rest when he deemed it necessary.
If you take Rivers at his word, does that mean one of the two sit tonight? If that’s true, it would seem Embiid would want to face Jokic just on a professional level.
However, Harden played 44 minutes yesterday and Embiid registered 41. Stay tuned.
Nuggets vs. 76ers Free Pick Prediction
The best sportsbooks opening number of -3.5 on Philadelphia frankly seemed low and since that has dropped to -2.5. Though we scoured the internet to find answers, based on what we said earlier, it seems one of the two studs for the 76ers will sit, or that is what the oddsmakers are counting on at least as of early Monday morning.
After being a great home team for years with Embiid, this season the Sixers have slid to 19-14 SU and 13-20 ATS.
Denver has been above average on the road at 20-15 SU, but as an away underdog mostly average at 9-8-2 ATS, losing by -1.9 PPG. The Nuggets have failed to cover their past four contests, nonetheless, they are 18-7 ATS after failing to cover four of their last five against the spread. And with a day off, Denver is 26-14 SU, winning by +4.5 PPG. That’s enough for us to side with the Joker and Denver.
NBA Pick: Nuggets +2.5 (-110) at BetMGM