Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Clippers (1/13 @ 10 PM EST)
Spread: Clippers -1.5
Money Line: Clippers -120 / Nuggets +110
Overview and Betting Info
The West-leading Denver Nuggets (28-13) will head to the City of Angels to take on the LA Clippers (22-21). These teams have played twice so far, with the Nuggets winning both games by double digits. Denver is currently tied with Memphis for the top spot in the West, while LA sits in sixth place.
The Nuggets are 21-19-1 against the spread this year and have covered eight of their last ten games. They have gone over the total 17 times but have been under in four of their last five games.
The Clippers are 21-22 versus the spread and have covered just one of their last six games. They’ve gone over the total 17 times but have been under in five of their last seven games.
The Nuggets come into Friday’s matchup winners of eleven of their last thirteen games to vault to the top of the conference. They beat the Clippers once already during this run, dominating the game and winning by 31 points. It’s impressive, considering the Clippers had their starters healthy but held them to just 91 points. They are averaging 117.0 PPG (5th in NBA) by shooting 50.9% from the field (2nd) and 40% from three (1st). They’ve been spreading the ball around, with the second most assists per game (28.7).
They’ve been led by another MVP-level season from Nikola Jokic. The Big man is averaging 24.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 9.7 assists per game. His stat line was less than impressive against the Clippers a couple of weeks ago, but he only played 24 minutes after being pulled when the game was out of hand (which was early). He is joined by Jamal Murray, who averages 18.4 points and 5.4 assists. His scoring has taken a dive since last season, but he’s been better so far in January by averaging 20 points by making 51.9% of his threes. In their most recent matchup, Murray scored 18 points in just 21 minutes against the Clippers. As it seems with every NBA star every night, Murray and Jokic are questionable to play on Friday.
The Nuggets are a deep team, with much talent behind their two starts. Aaron Gordon (16.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG) and Michael Porter Jr (16.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG) lead that group. Gordon has been an important piece this season, though his scoring has been down this month (12.7 PPG). He did have a nice day against the Clippers in their last game, with 13 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes. Porter has been solid, but he is far from the player Denver thought they had a couple of seasons ago. He missed almost all of last year with an injury and has already missed significant time this year. Still, he has been fantastic from three, making 40% of his attempts. We’ll keep an eye on Bones Hyland (13.6 PPG, 41% from 3) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (11.6 PPG, 48% from 3), as both have proven they can score.
The Clippers broke a brutal six-game losing streak on Tuesday with a win against the Mavs. It was an impressive showing, especially without Paul George. Their offense has been brutal, as they are 28th in the league with 109.2 points per game and are 23rd by shooting 46% from the field. They rank toward the bottom of the league in most categories and have looked far from the contenders they expected to be.
The Clippers have been led by Paul George (23.7 PPG, 6 RPG, 5.1 APG) and Kawhi Leonard (18.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG). George has carried this team on his back for most of the season, as Kawhi has been slowly returning to form. The good news is Kawhi is getting better each week as he has been averaging 21 points since December 1st. After playing just 18 minutes against Denver, Kawhi scored 62 points and 16 rebounds. The bad news is that Paul George has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury and looks to be set to miss Friday’s game as well.. Another player that will have a significant role Friday is Ivica Zubac (10.2 PPG, 10.5 RPG). The 7-footer is a defensive stud who will be vital to containing Jokic. He joins Reggie Jackson (11.3 PPG) and Normal Powell (15.5 PPG) as important role players for this Clippers team. They are two of the team’s best three-point shooters, though Jackson’s minutes have taken a big hit over his last three games. On the other hand, Powell is having a fantastic January by averaging 16.8 points and making 43.5% of his three-point attempts. We will also be watching John Wall (11.2 PPG, 5.3 APG), who has played a vital role on the bench. His scoring is way down this month (7.5 PPG), and his numbers have decreased each month. A big reason for his struggles has been his awful shooting from three (he made 14% of attempts this month). His play could end up being a critical factor in Friday’s game.