Denver Nuggets vs Portland Trail Blazers Game Preview: Denver's Value Rests on Status of MVP

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This is the second meeting between the teams this season after Denver blew out Portland 124-95 on November 14th – a game the Trail Blazers were without Damian Lillard, mind you. Since then, Lillard’s squad has reeled off three straight wins, including a 112-107 come-back victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Bulls. The Nuggets have lost four straight, the last two coming without MVP Nikola Jokic, who has been out with a sprained wrist.

Of course, we’ll have to monitor Jokic’s status (currently listed as questionable) before making a bet on tonight’s contest. This season, the Joker has been everything for Denver, leading the team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. His presence is even more important for a team that’s struggled to score in the absence of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. If Jokic is indeed ruled out, the current spread of Portland -7 could easily increase, as Denver will likely have a difficult time keeping pace with a Chauncey Billups’ group that ranks seventh in points per game at 109.9.

The Trail Blazers have been a tale of two teams thus far, going just 1-7 on the road, but 8-1 at home (6-3 against the spread at home). That being said, Portland is not exactly a defensive juggernaut, ranking 22nd overall in points allowed at 109.2. Should Jokic return to the lineup, he should be able to feast on a Blazers frontcourt allowing 23.44 points per game to centers. Assuming the big man plays, our model sees value in Denver’s +235 moneyline and +7 spread. If he’s out, consider rolling with Dame and the gang.

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