There are only two NBA games scheduled on the Tuesday card. Fingers crossed that Covid-19 doesn’t knock out one or both games. Both are west coast games, with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets meeting at the Ball Arena in Denver, and the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz expected to clash at the Vivint Arena in Utah. The two marquee games of Monday on MLK Day provided entertaining contests.
The Brooklyn Nets were able to hold off the Milwaukee Bucks, 125-123, while the Golden State Warriors erased a big deficit to knock off the LA Lakers on the road at the Staples Center, 115-113. The Warriors were 14 points down, but stayed calm and rode some clutch shooting from Kelly Oubre Jr and Stephen Curry.
The Thunder are coming off a 127-125 win in overtime over the Chicago Bulls on Friday. It was an impressive come from behind win for the Thunder after getting behind at halftime. The Thunder outscored the Bulls by 18 points in the second-half to erase the Bulls’ big lead and win by a couple of points. Fortunately for the Thunder, they had some time to process that win and not suffer a potential letdown spot immediately after.
From what I’ve seen out of the Thunder this season, I have to say they’ve been more impressive than expected. After trading away Paul George to put down the foundation for the future, the Thunder have been showing a lot of fight. The development of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has put the Thunder ahead of schedule.
Gilgeous-Alexander has scored 21.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.2 assists as a 22-year-old. I know how good George is, but if I’m the Clippers, I’d rather have the younger Gilgeous-Alexander. Along with him, the Thunder received all of those draft picks in return for George. If Gilgeous-Alexander continues to improve, and I think he will, the Thunder made off like thieves in the trade.
The Thunder have a tough matchup tonight against a good Denver Nuggets team. Good but they depend too much on Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. If Jokic and Murray don’t go off, then it’s a struggle for the Nuggets to win consistently. That formula won’t work in the ultra competitive Western Conference. Head below for our free Thunder vs. Nuggets pick on January 19, 2021.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets NBA Betting Odds:
Thunder vs. Nuggets Prediction:
The Denver Nuggets, and we can put the Portland Trail Blazers in the same category, as two Western Conference teams expected of a lot more this season. The Nuggets are off to a 6-7 start, while the Blazers are a 8-6 team after a 125-104 loss against the San Antonio Spurs last week. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are coming off a 109-105 loss against the Jazz. They’ve been good in spots, but again, depth is a concern for the Nuggets.
Jamal Murray scored 30 points, while Jokic went for 35 points in the loss. The next best scorer for the Nuggets was P. J. Dozier with just 9 points off the bench. 35-year-old Paul Millsap scored only 4 points. If it wasn’t for his defensive efficiency, Millsap would be a major liability for the Nuggets. In any event, the Nuggets could stand to improve at forward.
The Nuggets are 20th in the NBA with 112.5 points against per game. They need help defensively, so that’s what Millsap is being paid to do. Opponents have had success hitting from the field against the Nuggets in 2020-21. Note that teams are 48.4% from the field against the Nuggets. That is 27th in the league, so improvements must be made for the Nuggets in that regard.
OKC has been sneaky good on the road this season. They’re 5-1 as visitors and their numbers have gone up on the road. The Thunder have allowed an average of 112.1 points per game this season, though that drops to 106.5 points per game. The offensive numbers have improved slightly from 106 points overall to 108 points per game on the road.
Denver has been a money burner, as they’ve gone 2-5 ATS in their last seven, while OKC has gone 4-2 ATS in their last six. The oddsmakers continue to doubt the Thunder, but the way I see it, 9.5 points looks like too much against a pesky and motivated Thunder squad.