Trail Blazers Will Handle Denver At Home Thursday

The Portland Trail Blazers (13-11) host the Denver Nuggets (14-10) at the Moda Center Thursday for a 10 p.m. ET tip-off. Nuggets-Trail Blazers is the second of an NBA TV doubleheader in the NBA’s slim three-game slate

Portland beat the brakes off of Denver at home in their first meeting this season on Oct. 24. The Trail Blazers outperformed the Nuggets in three of the “four factors,” and they tied in turnover rate.

But, Denver won and covered three of four over Portland last season. Also, Nuggets’ reigning two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic obviously has a huge edge over Trail Blazers’ big Jusuf Nurkic.

Betting Details (DraftKings)

  • Moneyline (ML): Nuggets (-105), TRAIL BLAZERS (-115)
  • Against the spread (ATS): Nuggets +1 (-110), TRAIL BLAZERS -1 (-110)
  • Total (O/U) — 227.5 — O: -110, U: -110

‘Dame Time’ > Jamal Murray

However, the PG mismatch in Portland’s favor is the biggest factor in this Nuggets-Trail Blazers meeting. Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard lit the Nuggets up for 31 points on 62.5% shooting with 8 assists to 1 turnover. Portland is 8-4 straight up (SU) when Lillard plays.

Denver Nuggets PG Jamal Murray and Portland Trail Blazers PG Damian Lillard look on during Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.
Denver Nuggets PG Jamal Murray and Portland Trail Blazers PG Damian Lillard look on during Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Denver PG Jamal Murray is still knocking the rust off built from being sidelined with an injury for the 2020-21 season. Murray’s points per game (PPG) and shooting percentages from everywhere on the floor are down.

Also …

The Trail Blazers are better vs. bad defenses

Both teams are 20th or worse in defensive rating.

Per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), Portland is 7-1 SU with a +7.7 adjusted net rating (nRTG) vs. bottom-10 defenses. The Nuggets are 5-4 SU with a +5.9 adjusted nRTG against bad defenses.

The Trail Blazers have a +8.0 ATS margin in those spots (ranked third) and the Nuggets have a -4.8 ATS margin (28th), per CTG.

Furthermore …

Portland is better rested

The Trail Blazers are playing on three days’ rest and the Nuggets last played Tuesday. Lillard missed seven games from Nov. 21 – Dec. 3 and returned in Portland’s 116-110 win over the Pacers Sunday. As did Trail Blazers starting SF Josh Hart who missed the two games prior.

Portland Trail Blazers SF Josh Hart high-fives C Jusuf Nurkic during the game against the Indiana Pacers at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon.
Portland Trail Blazers SF Josh Hart high-fives C Jusuf Nurkic during the game against the Indiana Pacers at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. (Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

These are two of Portland’s most important players and the extra rest will help them vs. the Nuggets. Dame Time is an All-Star and the Trail Blazers score 9.4 more points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time when Hart is on the floor, per CTG. 

Not only that but there are …

Portland-friendly trends for this matchup

The Trail Blazers are 11-5 ATS vs. teams with a winning record and the Nuggets are 6-7 ATS vs. winning teams. Denver is only 5-10 SU and 5-10 ATS as a short ‘dog (+3 or less).

Finally …

Portland appears to be the ‘sharp’ side.

Maybe I’m reading the tea leaves wrong. But, the Trail Blazers are more expensive at Pinnacle Sportsbook (Pinny). Pinny is one of the sharpest shops because it’s known for booking the largest sports bets.

More than 70% of the money and nearly 60% of the bets placed at DraftKings (DK) is on the Nuggets, per VSIN. Yet Portland has gone from a slight ‘dog on the look-ahead line to a slight favorite. DK is making the more popular team cheaper.

These sportsbooks are trying to entice their clientele to bet on the Nuggets. Let’s go the other way and …

BET: TRAIL BLAZERS (-115) ML at DraftKings Sportsbook

  • Don’t be cheap: Portland’s ML is only 5 cents on the dollar more expensive currently than the ATS.

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Written by Geoff Clark

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