Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets: Spread, Line, Odds, Predictions, Picks and Betting Preview
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS VS. DENVER NUGGETS GAME INFORMATION
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Ball Arena
TV Coverage: ESPN
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS VS. DENVER NUGGETS MONEYLINE, SPREAD, TOTAL, AND ODDS
Moneyline: Clippers -144 | Nuggets +122
Spread: Clippers -2.5
NBA Championship Odds: Clippers +650 | Nuggets +1600
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LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS VS. DENVER NUGGETS NEWS AND NOTES
The Nuggets are basically injury-free at the moment. They do have two players listed on their injury report, but neither are impact players. JaMychal Green is questionable with a calf injury, and he missed the Nuggets’ season-opener on Wednesday. They were hopeful he would be able to suit up for that contest, so it sounds like there’s a chance he’s in the lineup on Christmas. Regardless, he isn’t expected to play a huge role for them this year. The other injury is to Greg Whittington, who is completely irrelevant.
On the other side, the Clippers are going to have to deal with a major impact. Marcus Morris was easily one of their top role players after being acquired from the Knicks before the trade deadline, and he’s already been ruled out vs. the Nuggets. The Clippers increased their Net Rating by +17.7 points with Morris on the court during the regular season, and the three-man combination of Morris, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George was one of the most effective in the entire league. The Clippers were able to survive without Morris vs. the Lakers, but I’m sure they’d like to get him back in the lineup as soon as possible.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS VS. DENVER NUGGETS PREVIEW AND PICK
I think people forgot how good the Clippers were last season. They were considered the favorites heading into the NBA playoffs, and they held a 3-1 series lead over the Nuggets before an epic playoff collapse. That said, I’m willing to give them a pass for their performance vs. Denver. Some teams struggled more than others with the bubble, and the Clippers were also reportedly dealing with chemistry issues. They fired Doc Rivers and hired Ty Lue to replace him at head coach, so hopefully, those chemistry issues have been alleviated.
That said, I think this is a really tough spot for the Clippers. They’re coming off an emotional win over their heated rivals in their last game, and now they have to go play in one of the toughest arenas in basketball. Even though there are no fans, the Nuggets should still receive a significant boost from playing in Denver. The altitude is impossible to prepare for, and Denver has unsurprisingly been one of the best home teams in the league. They own a record of 323-290-11 against the spread dating back to 2004, including a mark of 41-31-2 over the past two seasons.
The Nuggets also represent a tough matchup for the Clippers. They are absolutely elite at defending wing players – that tends to happen when you employ Leonard and George – but they have had their struggles on the interior. Nikola Jokic destroyed them in the playoffs last season, averaging 24.4 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game. He also shot 51.5% from the field and 39.5% from the 3-point line, and it’s tough to win games when you’re allowing one player to dominate like that.
The Clippers do figure to be improved on the interior after acquiring Serge Ibaka during the offseason, but I don’t know if that will be enough to completely stop Jokic. I like the idea of backing the Nuggets as contrarian home underdogs, especially with Morris out of the lineup.
The Pick: Nuggets +2.5