Well, last night was a horror show. I felt the Golden State Warriors were a steal as +7.5 underdogs, but they decided not to show up at all in a 40-point loss.
I trusted Golden State’s star talent to put up more of a fight and they simply did not. Utah, meanwhile, moved into the #3 seed in the Western Conference with the win and if they get another victory tonight they will stay there.
That is one of many interesting battles to close out the 2017-18 NBA regular season. Utah faces off with Portland for the right to claim the 3rd overall seed, which by itself is really odd.
That isn’t the only game that shockingly has super specific playoff implications for both teams, though. Denver and Minnesota also clash in an epic battle that will decide the 8th and final spot in the Western Conference.
This is probably the biggest game of this entire 12-game slate. Other contests deal with seeding, but this is the lone game tonight that will grant entrance to the playoffs for one team and send the other packing.
Minnesota opens as the early favorite (-3) at GTbets and other basketball betting sites. It’s easy to see why, too, as they’ll be playing at home and lead the season series (2-1) against Denver. By the looks of it, the Nuggets are a very popular and sneaky bet, seeing as they just stole a win over Minny six days ago and come in red hot behind a six-game winning streak (8-2 over their last 10 games).
There’s no denying the fact that the Nuggets are on fire and are finally healthy, but getting what amounts to a playoff win on the road won’t be easy. Let’s take a closer look at this showdown and see which side your bet should fall on:
Denver Nuggets (+3, -109) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (-3, -109) Total: 212 (-112/-107)
The knee-jerk reaction is to take the points or the value with Denver as a straight up underdog bet. They won the last meeting between these two sides and have been on fire.
The main problem I have here is the fact that most of Denver’s recent success has come at home. That wouldn’t shock anyone, as the Nuggets have been very strong on their home floor (31-10) all year.
However, over their past 10 games, Denver’s two losses came on the road and the three road wins they obtained came against a depleted Clippers squad, the Bulls, the Thunder (by one) and a Wizards team sans John Wall.
That’s worth pointing out for a team that has been really weak (15-25) away from home all year.
Denver is fully capable of pulling everything together and getting a win. I just don’t buy them as the superior team in this setting and their road struggles have been pronounced all season.
Their numbers ATS on the road don’t provide much inspiration, either. Denver has gone just 17-21-2 against the spread as the road team and 11-11-2 as the road underdog.
Minnesota, meanwhile, is in fine form and unlike the last time they battled the Nuggets, they’re at full strength. Defensive ace Jimmy Butler wasn’t around for that game – one in which Denver narrowly took on their home floor by four points.
Toss in Butler’s elite two-way ability and the fact that the T’Wolves (29-11 at home) get to play their way into the postseason on their home floor, and the advantage falls with Minnesota.
From a matchup perspective, these teams are dead even. Jamal Murray and Jeff Teague can both score on each other at will, Gary Harris and Jimmy Butler give both sides an elite perimeter defender and Nikola Jokic and Karl-Anthony Towns could easily cancel each other out down low.
The key difference is experience. Butler, Teague and Taj Gibson have all been on playoff teams in the past and they know how to win big games. Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Nikola Jokic really don’t.
Denver brought in Paul Millsap to give them that playoff seasoning, but he’s missed most of the year. The Nuggets seems to be getting their chemistry down at the right time, but it’s going to be tough to keep it all from unraveling in such a hostile environment.
The edge ultimately falls with superior coaching with Minnesota, a slightly more efficient defense and the home court edge. If you want to take the Nuggets to beat the spread, I won’t stop you. However, Minnesota is a solid price (-150) at GTbets and I think they close the deal at home tonight.