The Boston Celtics looked like a team worth getting behind as they went into Atlanta to take on the Hawks last night and they did not disappoint. Kyrie Irving and company certainly gave bettors a scare as they fell behind in an ugly first quarter, but in the end the Celtics easily covered a nice -6.5 spread.
The win pushed me back up over .500 (2-1) on the year and has me eyeing another favorable spread to close out the weekend. To be perfectly honest, this is another questionable NBA betting slate, as five of the six games have ridiculously tight spreads (-6 or lower). The only one that tops -10 is a battle between the Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center.
Golden State to cover a gaudy -12.5 point spread is both tempting and scary. They just escaped Philadelphia with a crazy win over the 76ers and if there were ever a trap game, this is it. The Nets love to run and are at home, while they’re 8-7 against the spread this year and have been a lot more competitive than a lot of people anticipated.
Instead, I’m looking at the Denver Nuggets, who scored a massive win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night and should be ready to get another win in Los Angeles against the Lakers.
Denver Nuggets (-4.5) @ Los Angeles Lakers (+4.5) Total: 223
Can I just stop for a second and marvel at this ridiculously tight line? I know that Lonzo Ball created some excitement with the Lakers franchise and Los Angeles has been improved this year, but the Nuggets are getting severely disrespected here.
Denver has had it’s ups and downs as they deal with a young point guard and establishing chemistry, but they’re without a doubt the better team between the two. The trip from Denver to L.A. isn’t that worrisome, either, while the Lakers are fresh off a loss to the Phoenix Suns. The Suns!
Truly, Los Angeles is not a scary matchup in any regard. The Lakers surprisingly have a very efficient defense (4th in the NBA), but the Suns dropped 122 points on them on Friday night and this defense has coughed up 109+ points in three of their last five contests.
While the Lakers have an efficient defense on the year, it’s not a matchup that worries me. The Lakers are not dialed in right now, having lost two straight and are just 4-6 over their last 10 contests. Just as important, the Lakers haven’t found an extra edge by playing at the Staples Center this year, as they’ve gone just 4-5 on their home floor.
I hate how the Lakers match up against the Nuggets. Brook Lopez can get his offensively, but he’s not a good defender and Nikola Jokic could own him at both ends of the court. Kyle Kuzma has been fantastic, but he’s still a rookie and will have his hands full with Paul Millsap at both ends of the floor, as well.
Brandon Ingram has been developing as a scorer, but Gary Harris and Wilson Chandler can work together to keep him from taking over. Then there is the battle between Jamal Murray and Lonzo Ball, which can only go one way if we look at Ball’s atrocious numbers and clear lack of confidence as a scorer. Maybe that changes soon, but I doubt it does on Sunday.
Denver has the far superior offense and has the ability to defend. They also enter with the league’s 6th most efficient offense. Denver has more talent and is starting to look like a legit playoff contender – much like what we saw out of them late last season. They’re heating up, too, as they’ve won 7 of their last 10 games.
This series favors the Nuggets, as they’ve owned the Lakers with 14 wins over the last 17 meetings. That is quite devastating on paper, while the one-sided production has remained constant with Denver taking last year’s season series (2-1) and the year before that (3-1), as well.
The lone thing that pops up as a problem is Denver’s woeful 2-4 road record to this point. We can’t take that to heart this early in the season, however, as the talent gap, history and overall matchup 100% favors the Nuggets.
All of this is ammo for the pick, but to me, nothing beats this line. If you plan on betting, I’d act now before Vegas realizes how much wiggle room they’re giving bettors. The Nuggets just completely housed the Pelicans and have the ability to do something similar to the Lakers.
Even if we get a shootout and L.A. hangs around, Denver just needs to win by five. I don’t think they have much trouble covering. At -110 at Bovada, that’s not a spread I can pass up and it truly feels like the best on Sunday’s basketball betting slate.