Los Angeles Clippers (31-27) at Denver Nuggets (33-27)
The headline on ESPN.com yesterday was about how the bottom teams in the NBA are tanking so hard that the bottom eight teams in the NBA have lost a combined 44 straight games. The talking heads on sports center talked all day about how obviously and intentionally these teams were losing.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban even came out and said that losing was the best option for his team right now, he was subsequently fined 600k for his statement. I even got flack on social media for taking too “obvious” of a pick when I backed the Indiana Pacers -3-points against the Dallas Mavericks.
Well, guess what? Nothing is ever too easy in the NBA, and we came up short. Clearly, you are going to want to be on the other side of these teams that are intentionally losing at this point, but that doesn’t mean that anything is ever guaranteed.
The Mavericks, as much as owner Mark Cuban probably hated to see, took the game fairly easily, 109-103. This goes to show you that on any given night anything can happen in the NBA and that we need to make sure that we stay disciplined with our bankroll management, even when one team clearly wants to lose.
One of the talking heads on ESPN said it best when he said teams tank, players don’t. These players are going to play as hard as they can every night, so while the owners and the management might want them to lose, you can bet the players are still going to be giving a full effort.
Today we will look at another team that would likely rather be losing right now, the Los Angeles Clippers, as they face the Denver Nuggets.
The Los Angeles Clippers will head to Denver to face a streaking Nuggets team Tuesday night. This game could go a long way in deciding which of these two teams make the playoffs, as entering play today just one game separates these two squads for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Clippers are banged up and may be without two starters tonight. For Denver, they are playing as well as they have all season long, winners of seven out of their last nine games as they make a push for the playoffs. The Nuggets are -4.5-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 230 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:0 PM PST from the Pepsi Center.
The Denver Nuggets have used an elite home court advantage to propel themselves into the playoff picture in the Western Conference. The Nuggets 24 home wins are tied for the third-most in the NBA this season. They have as many home wins as the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. When the Nuggets get to play in Denver, they can beat any team in the league.
That is what makes this game so important tonight. The Nuggets have played a lot of the season at home and after this game embark on a vicious road trip that will likely decide their season. The Nuggets play eleven of their next sixteen games on the road, they must take advantage of this home game tonight against a very banged up Clippers team.
The Los Angeles Clippers seemingly threw in the towel on the season when they shipped off Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons at the trade deadline. They weren’t good enough to win it all this year, so they decided to blow it up and start over.
Well, the problem with that has been, that they just aren’t losing. The Clippers have been more than serviceable since the deal and are clinging on to a slight shot at making the playoffs, as they are just one game back entering play tonight.
The problem for L.A. is that they just can’t manage to stay healthy. Avery Bradley is expected to miss tonight’s game and likely several more as the newly acquired guard is banged up. Danilo Gallinari is also expected to sit this one out with a bruised right hand. You have to wonder what type of effort this team is capable of, so shorthanded, playing in such hostile territory.
I have been backing the Nuggets at home all season long. They are like two different teams at home and on the road. During this 7-2 stretch of success, the only losses for the Nuggets have been against the Houston Rockets, a team that is on absolute fire right now and has forgotten how to lose. This could easily have been a 9-0 run had they not run into the Rockets.
But to be honest, I would still like the Nuggets at this price even if they weren’t playing all that well at the moment. They know this is the last game at home before a long road trip and they know they must take care of business tonight. I would even like it if the Clippers had their full starting lineup intact. The fact that they are going to roll into Denver with several key pieces missing makes me love Denver at home tonight.
The number isn’t a small one, but I could see Denver winning this one by double digits. I just don’t think the Clippers will have the firepower tonight to hang with a very motivated Nuggets team.
Give me the Denver Nuggets tonight at home laying -4.5-points!