A pair of Western Conference playoff teams are set to square off on Sunday afternoon in Denver. The Nuggets are trying to chase down the Golden State Warriors for the top overall seed in the Western Conference, while the Clippers are trying to hold on to the eighth and final spot in the playoff field. Denver has beaten Los Angeles in two of the first three meetings so far this season, including a 121-100 win at home.
The Nuggets come into this game with a three-game winning streak, including a 114-104 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night. Denver brings a 40-18 record into this game, and they have a two-game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Northwest Division. Los Angeles has won two straight victories despite trading away their best player prior to the trade deadline. The Clippers are 33-27 so far this season and are in a tight race for the final playoff spot in the West. Denver is a 9.0 point favorite over Los Angeles in this game.
Clippers Still Scoring Without Harris
The Los Angeles Clippers made a surprising trade earlier this month, sending leading scorer Tobias Harris to the Philadelphia 76ers. Harris was averaging close to 21 points per game in a Clippers uniform, but Los Angeles hasn’t slowed down on offense without him. The Clippers are still averaging 114.2 points per game this season, which is the 7th best scoring average in the NBA. Los Angeles has been struggling on defense this season, allowing 113.7 points per game. The Clippers want to play an uptempo style, but that is hard to do against the Nuggets.
Without Harris, shooting guard Lou Williams is leading the Clippers with 19.8 points per game, with all of them coming off the bench. Danilo Gallinari and Montrezl Harrell have combined to score better than 35 points per game as well, and Harrell recently had a 30 point performance. The Clippers don’t take a ton of three-point shots, but they do make them with great consistency. Los Angeles is shooting close to 39 percent from deep as a team, and they will need to make them in this game.
Nuggets Doing Everything Well
The Denver Nuggets might not have a roster full of NBA stars, but they do almost everything well as a team. Denver is holding opponents to just 107 points per game this season while putting up 112 points per night. The Nuggets share the ball extremely well, averaging 27.7 assists per game, which is the second-best average in the league. All-Star center Nikola Jokic leads the Nuggets in nearly every statistical category, but Denver has a deep roster that is full of talented role players.
Speaking of Jokic, the Clippers will have to find a way to try to neutralize him if they want to win this game. Jokic is averaging 20.4 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game this season, and is capable of notching a triple-double every time he steps on the floor. Point guard Jamal Murray is one of the most underrated players in the NBA, averaging more than 18 points per game while shooting 37 percent from the three-point line. Denver doesn’t get a lot of attention from the media, but the Nuggets are for real.
Denver Gets Solid Win Over Clippers
These two teams play very different styles of basketball, but both the Nuggets and Clippers have had terrific seasons. The Clippers have still been winning games without Harris, but eventually that trade will catch up to them. The Nuggets have gone 25-4 at home so far this season, and they will improve on that number in this game. Bet the Denver Nuggets -9.0 over the Los Angeles Clippers.