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Wizards try to reach .500 hosting Nuggets Monday
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 12/9/2013  at  4:40:00 AM
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DENVER NUGGETS (12-8)

at WASHINGTON WIZARDS (9-10)

Tip-off: Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Denver -2, Total: 200

The Nuggets and Wizards square off Monday in the nation's capital with both teams playing good basketball as of late.

Denver went into Philadelphia on Saturday and came away with a 103-92 victory over the Sixers, making the club 8-2 SU (6-4 ATS) in its past 10 games. Washington, on the other hand, lost its last game 109-105 at home against the Bucks on Friday, but is still 7-3 SU (6-4 ATS) in its past 10 contests. Although the Nuggets have generally dominated the past 20 meetings in this series, going 15-5 SU and 12-8 ATS, the Wizards are 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings, including a 2-0 SU sweep last season. The most recent meeting between these teams was a 119-113 home victory for Washington on Feb. 22. Although Monday will mark Denver's eighth road game in its past nine contests, all extremely tired NBA teams (playing fifth game in seven days) in the first half of the season are 109-55 ATS (67%) where the line is +3 to -3 since 1996. However, the Wizards are 21-8 ATS (72%) after scoring 105+ points in their previous game over the past three seasons. Both teams have key injuries to deal with, as Nuggets PG Ty Lawson (hamstring) and Washington PF Nene Hilario (Achilles) are both doubtful for Monday.

Which surging team will prevail on Monday night? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Forecaster has been profitable so far this season with a 54% ATS record (50-42-1) in featured games, while the five experts are at 55% ATS (52-42-1) on Best Bets since Nov. 12. During this timeframe, StatFox Zach has a stellar 68% ATS mark (13-6), StatFox Scott is a robust 61% ATS (11-7-1) and StatFox Gary carries a strong 56% ATS record (10-8).

The Nuggets have a fast-paced offense that scores 104.0 PPG (6th in NBA), but they shoot a pedestrian 45.3% FG (13th in league) because they don't always make the extra pass for a better shot, ranking 14th in the NBA in assists (21.9 APG). But although its style of play leads to a lot of points allowed (101.3 PPG, 9th-most in league), Denver's FG Pct. defense of 43.6% ranks eighth-best in the NBA. During their 8-2 SU surge, the Nuggets have allowed just 96.9 PPG on 43% FG (28% threes). Denver played without PG Ty Lawson (19.3 PPG, 8.0 APG) in Saturday's win over the Sixers, and backup PG Andre Miller (6.4 PPG, 3.5 APG) did a nice job of managing the offense as his replacement. Miller had eight points, seven assists and just one turnover in 29 minutes of play. PG Nate Robinson (10.8 PPG) led the Nuggets in scoring with 20 points off the bench to give him 15.6 PPG in his past eight contests. The Nuggets tallied 52 rebounds (20 offensive) in the game and continue to be one of the NBA’s best teams on the glass, averaging 46.1 RPG (4th in NBA). They should be able to exploit a weak Washington rebounding unit with just 41.3 RPG (22nd in league). Denver PF Kenneth Faried (10.2 PPG, 8.6 RPG) leads the team in rebounding, but has averaged only 5.7 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 19.3 MPG over his past three contests. The Nuggets will need him to get back on track and closer to his season averages, especially with Lawson doubtful to play.

Washington has an average offense, scoring 99.4 PPG (16th in NBA) on 44.5% FG (19th in league), but the team is very unselfish with 23.6 APG (6th in NBA). The Wizards are also a pedestrian defensive club allowing 100.2 PPG (17th in league) on 46.4% FG (5th-worst in NBA). After holding the Magic to 80 points on 39% FG, they surrendered 109 points on 46% FG in Friday's 109-105 loss to the lowly Bucks. PF Nene Hilario (14.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG) played 25 minutes in the game and scored 10 points, but he aggravated a lingering Achilles injury and will likely sit out against his former team. PG John Wall (19.6 PPG, 9.2 APG, 4.4 RPG) had 30 points and eight assists in the loss and is averaging 24.0 PPG and 11.0 APG over the past three games. With SG Bradley Beal (20.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG) out with a leg injury, SG Trevor Ariza (16.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG) has really had to step it up, and so far he has. Ariza has scored 22+ points in his past three games, and is averaging 23.3 PPG on a blistering 68% FG (14-of-20 threes) with 7.0 RPG during this stretch. C Marcin Gortat (13.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG) will be the X-factor in this game, as without Hilario, he will really need to clean up the glass. Gortat is averaging just 6.7 RPG over the past three games despite logging 36.2 MPG. Going against a great rebounding team, his production will be crucial.

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