LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (25-6)
at DENVER NUGGETS (17-15)
Tip-off: Tuesday, 9:05 p.m. ET
Line: Even, Total: 206
After a perfect 16-0 December, the Clippers are looking to start off the new year with their 18th straight victory when they visit to Denver on Tuesday night.
Los Angeles went 12-4 ATS in December, but was just a mediocre 4-3 ATS on the road. Denver is 6-3 (SU and ATS) in its past nine contests, but managed just 72 points in its last game, a nine-point loss at Memphis. These teams have met nine times in the past three seasons with the Clippers going 7-2 ATS (6-3 SU). This includes their 112-100 home win over the Nuggets on Christmas Day.
Can the red-hot Clippers keep their streak alive with a tough road matchup? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts closed out 2012 in grand style, going 12-3-1 ATS (80%) in the final three days and 33-15-1 ATS (69%) in the final 10 days of the year. StatFox Dave is 9-3 ATS (75%) during this 10-day stretch, while StatFox Brian has had seven perfect records in the past eight days, going 9-2 ATS (82%) over this span. StatFox Scott is 9-5 ATS (64%) since Dec. 19 and StatFox Gary has the best record for the entire season at 56% ATS (37-29-4), with Brian (55% ATS) and Scott (55% ATS) not far behind. The four experts are collectively 53.3% ATS (187-164-11) on Best Bets for the season.
The Clippers won 17 games in a row, prevailing by a dozen points in 11 of these 17 wins. The offense is scoring 104.7 PPG on 49% FG, while the defense has allowed more than 100 points just twice during the run, both to Utah. PG Chris Paul has 16.4 PPG (48% FG, 92% FT), 9.4 APG and just 1.9 TOPG in these 17 victories. Paul has loved playing the Nuggets in his career, scoring 22.5 PPG with 10.4 APG in 17 meetings since the start of the 2007-08 season. His alley-oop partner SF Blake Griffin has also been strong during the streak with 18.6 PPG (58% FG) and 8.7 RPG. He's also averaged a double-double in his career versus Denver with 18.9 PPG and 10.6 RPG. But the two best L.A. players in the Christmas Day win over the Nuggets both came off the bench, as SF Matt Barnes (20 pts, 8 reb) and Jamal Crawford (22 pts) each posted a +20 rating.
Denver has been nearly unbeatable at home, going 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS, outscoring these visitors 107.0 PPG (47.1% FG) to 96.6 PPG (42.7% FG). The Nuggets have pumped in 109.1 PPG on 49% FG during their seven-game home win streak, but they shot just 42.6% FG during an 81-72 loss in Memphis on Saturday with no player scoring more than 12 points. The Denver offense was much more efficient in the Christmas Day loss at Staples Center when it scored 100 points on 50% FG thanks to 62 points in the paint. C Kosta Koufos (8-for-8 FG, 10 rebounds) and SF Jordan Hamilton (7-for-9 FG) each had an efficient 16 points that day, but SF Danilo Gallinari struggled badly, going 1-for-10 from the floor. Gallinari leads the Nuggets with 15.9 PPG this year, but he has been wildly inconsistent with eight single-digit scoring outputs and nine games of 20+ points, including a season-high 39 points in Dallas on Friday. Third-leading scorer PG Ty Lawson has also struggled with his shot recently, scoring just 9.2 PPG on 33% FG in the past five games. However, SG Andre Iguodala continues to do it all, averaging 14.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 5.7 APG and 2.0 SPG in his past nine games.