Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets NBA Preview


Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets reacts. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP
Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets reacts. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP

The Over is a popular NBA pick for Tuesday’s Northwest Division matchup between the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets.


 Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets

at Ball Arena


What happens when you take a tired team and make it climb a mountain? We’ll find out Tuesday night when the Denver Nuggets (16-14 SU, 13-17 ATS) host the Portland Trail Blazers (18-12 SU, 16-14 ATS). Portland played and lost Monday night; if that weren’t enough, they had to travel for Tuesday’s matchup. This is bound to have some impact on the NBA odds – specifically, the total, which opened at 231 points at bet365. The question is whether those tired legs will benefit the Over or the Under. Sharp bettors appear to have chosen the former for their NBA picks, pushing the total up to 232 points in early betting, and there could still be some value on that side; the Trail Blazers (Over 17-13) have the Over at 4-0 in their last four games playing on zero days of rest. The Nuggets, meanwhile, have been highly profitable with the Over this year at 21-9, including 10-4 at home.

Travel Weary

Fatigue has a funny way of taking your biggest problems and making them even worse. Portland’s defense is definitely their weak spot, ranking second-last in the league at 113.9 points allowed per 100 possessions. Their most recent game on zero days of rest was last Wednesday, when they beat the New Orleans Pelicans 126-124 (Over 237.5) as 4-point road dogs – having traveled from Oklahoma City the night before.

This time, the Blazers are making the trip from Phoenix, where the Suns handed them a resounding 132-100 defeat (Over 226.5) as 6.5-point home faves. Not only will they be playing at high elevation on Tuesday, Portland will also be without three of their top performers: centers Jusuf Nurkic (wrist) and Zach Collins (ankle), and shooting guard C.J. McCollum (foot). All three are out indefinitely, and back-up center Harry Giles (calf) is listed as day-to-day.

Jokic for MVP

With their frontcourt in tatters, the Trail Blazers will have an even harder time containing Nikola Jokic this Tuesday. One of this year’s leading candidates for MVP honors, Jokic (plus-3.5 VORP) is enjoying his best season yet, putting up 26.7 points, 11.2 rebounds and 8.6 assists every 36 minutes. Those numbers could go up after facing Portland, who have noted non-defender Enes Kanter (plus-0.1 VORP) starting at center. The Nuggets are also short-handed heading into this matchup. Power forwards Paul Millsap (knee) and PF JaMychal Green (shoulder), along with shooting guards Gary Harris (adductor) and PJ Dozier (hamstring), have all been ruled out for Tuesday. Not having Millsap (plus-0.5 VORP) to worry about should make life easier for Kanter, at least in the scoring department; Zeke Nnaji, Denver’s 2020 first-round pick, has shot the ball well filling in at the 4-spot, but his defense is very much a work in progress. The Over also happens to be 11-4 in the last 15 games between these Northwest Division rivals, so they already appear to have the right chemistry to do it again this Tuesday. Don’t wait too long to place those bets, though; some of the leading sportsbooks already have the total up to 232.5 points at press time, and it could get even bigger by tip-off.

Pick: Over 232 (–110) at bet365

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