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6 of 7 Experts (86%) with a pick against the spread are aligned. 8* play on the Portland Trailblazers (Spread).
Alex B Smith: NBA Thursday Night Top Play
The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Denver Nuggets tonight as they look to get the 8th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs, which has become a strong reality thanks to the collapse from the Memphis Grizzlies. The Nuggets picked up a solid OT win over Oklahoma City and followed it up with a close victory against the Spurs last game, but they are dealing with some injuries in the backcourt with Gary Harris, Will Barton & Jamal Murray all recently missing time.
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We are going to play against the Nuggets here and bet the more desperate Blazers in this matchup. The Nuggets could move up to the #2 seed in the West and have some incentive to win games in the Bubble but Portland is fighting for the 8th or 9th spot in the West and a change to make the post season. Portland is 0-3 against Denver this season but that was without center Jusuf Nurkic who can match up against the Nuggets Jokic, who has 69 points, 37 rebounds and 17 assists in the three meetings. Portland also catches the Nuggets off a game yesterday and they will be playing their 3rd game in four days. Teams without rest 2-5 SU in the Bubble games and a few of losses have not been close. That is to be expected as players were off for several months and are still finding their way back to game shape. What makes it especially tough for the Nuggets is their lack of three starters/rotation players as Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton all continue to miss time. We feel the pointspread is a clear indicator on who to bet in this matchup as Portland was an underdog to Houston and Boston in their last two games but are now favored over a hot Denver team?
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Blazers need the game in their quest to catch the Grizzlies for the advantage of the 8th seed play in. Nuggets have won 2 in a row despite playing without several top players in Barton, Harris, and Murray. Last night they caught a Spurs team that does not play much in the way of D. Nuggets lead the season series 3-0 as the have prevailed by 28 15 and 8. The issue is the 3 point shooting as Denver has converted 53 of 102 while the Blazers have made only 25 of 89. Portland is not that bad and the Nuggets simply are not that good.
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This looks like a potential flat spot for the shorthanded Denver Nuggets who will be playing on back-to-back nights and coming off a pair of victories.
The Portland Trail Blazers have had a day off since a meriting 110-102 win over Houston and the team is 2-1 SU (2-0-1 ATS) in the NBA bubble. The Blazers are still very much in desperation mode as they try to hunt down the slumping Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the west.
The Nuggets are likely to be without the services of Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, and Will Barton for a fourth straight game and their bench must be running out of steam.
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The Denver Nuggets are 2-1 since the restart after earning a 132-126 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. The victory gives them a 45-23 record, just a half-game back of the Clippers for the West's No. 2 seed. The Nuggets are right back on the court tonight, taking on the Portland Trail Blazers, who are also 2-1 in the NBA's Orlando 'bubble.' Portland is off an impressive 110-102 win over the Rockets on Tuesday and with Memphis losing all FOUR of its games since the restart, find themselves just ONE game back of the West's No. 8 seed.
Denver returned to play missing THREE key starters and I'm not sure when any of them will return. PG Murray (18.8 & 4.8 APG) has a hamstring problem, SF Barton (15.1-6.3-2.7) has a knee issue and SG Harris (10.4) is bothered by his hip. Jokic (20-4-10.1-7.0 on the season) is 'the center of attention' (pardon the pun) but the team's 'hero' has been Michael Porter Jr. The PF had just 11 points in the team's 125-105 opening loss vs the Heat but he's scored 67 points and grabbed 27 rebounds in Denver's last two games (both wins).
While Denver has lost key players to injury, Portland has seen the return from injury of two key performers. Center Jusuf Nurkic is finally back on the court and he's averaged 22.0-12.3-4.3 in three games. Also, PF Zach Collins is back, averaging 7.0 & 7.0. Portland relies heavily one one of the NBA's best backcourts, Lillard (28.8-4.4-8.0) and McCollum (22.5-4.2-4.4) but don't dismiss the contributions of Carmelo Anthony. He's been a HUGE surprise all season, averaging 15.3 & 6.3. Then there is second-year pro Gary Trent Jr, who has a career average of 7.0 PPG, but is averaging 18.0 PPG "in the bubble."
Both teams have plenty to play for here but Portland is rested and the Blazers are still trying to secure a playoff berth (NOT the case with Denver). The Nuggets are 3-0 against the Blazers this season and have won NINE of the last 10 meetings but the Blazers are way more healthy and again, are playing for their postseason 'lives!'
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Analysis to come.
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