LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (44-19)
at DENVER NUGGETS (40-22)
Tip-off: Thursday, 10:35 p.m. ET
Line: Denver -4.5, Total: 214.5
The Clippers have been playing great basketball lately, especially on the road, but Thursday will present quite a challenge when they visit the Pepsi Center in Denver.
L.A. has won five straight road games (SU and ATS), but the Nuggets have prevailed in 11 straight contests at home, outscoring these visitors by an average score of 113 to 101. This matchup figures to be high-scoring, which actually favors both of these clubs, as Los Angeles is 11-2 ATS (85%) on the road since the start of last season when the total is greater than or equal to 200 points, and Denver is 13-1 ATS (93%) when the total is set at 210+ points this season. The Clips are 2-10 SU in their past 12 trips to Denver, including a 92-78 loss on New Year's Day which ended L.A.'s franchise-high, 17-game winning streak. However, Los Angeles is 8-3 ATS against the Nuggets over the past three calendar years, which includes a 5-1 ATS mark in games played in Denver.
Can the Nuggets win again at home by a comfortable margin? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. All four experts have been on fire in NBA Best Bets. StatFox Gary is 89% ATS (8-1) in March and 80% ATS (16-4) since Feb. 20, StatFox Scott is 67% ATS (32-16) since Feb. 3, StatFox Brian 80% ATS in March (8-2), including a perfect 5-0 ATS in past three days and StatFox Dave is 67% ATS (4-2) in the past three days. Since February began, the experts are a collective 59.2% ATS (116-80), including 64% ATS (23-13) in March. Scott is now 57% ATS (102-77-1) for the season, while Gary is 54% ATS (79-68-4) and Brian is 52% ATS (98-91-3). For NBA Totals, Scott is catching fire with a 9-4-1 (69.2%) mark since Feb. 22 to raise his season record to 57% (85-65-1) in Totals.
The Clippers are a team without a real weakness, averaging 100.8 PPG (9th in league), and allowing just 94.1 PPG (4th in NBA) this season. They love to share the basketball with 23.5 APG (4th in league), and lead the NBA with 9.9 steals per game. And despite beating Denver at home on Wednesday, this team has played extremely well with no rest, going 10-5 SU, including 3-0 on the road one day after playing at home. PG Chris Paul (16.4 PPG, 9.5 APG) has averaged 20.0 PPG and 10.0 APG in his past four games, but hasn't had a great series with Denver, scoring just 12.0 PPG with 7.0 APG. PF Blake Griffin (18.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG) has also been subpar in two meetings with the Nuggets this season with 12.5 PPG (43.5% FG) and 7.5 RPG. However, Griffin enters this game playing outstanding basketball with 20.2 PPG (66% FG) and 10.4 RPG over his past five games. SG Jamal Crawford (17.2 PPG) has also been sizzling recently with 23.0 PPG on 59% FG and 11-of-18 threes over the past four games, scoring at least 20 points in all four contests. His 22 points were a big reason L.A. beat Denver on Christmas Day, but Crawford's 2-of-11 shooting in Denver on New Year's Day was a big reason the Clips scored just 78 points in that loss. C DeAndre Jordan (8.8 PPG, 7.0 RPG) tallied a double-double (11 pts, 11 reb) in that loss to the Nuggets, but has made just 3-of-12 free throws in this series so far. Jordan had an efficient 10 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes of Wednesday's win over the Bucks.
Denver's offense loves to get up-and-down the court, attempting the league's second-most shots (85.4 FGA per game) and scoring the third-most points (105.7 PPG). This rapid pace also has the Nuggets committing the sixth-most turnovers in the NBA (14.7 TOPG), but they also distribute 24.4 APG (3rd in league) and are active defensively with 9.1 SPG (2nd in NBA). Denver also knows how to flex its muscles on the glass, ripping down 45.0 RPG this season (2nd in NBA). After battling a thigh injury, SF Danilo Gallinari (16.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG) finally looked healthy in Tuesday's win at Sacramento with 23 points on 7-of-11 FG and 5-of-6 threes. That should give him confidence on Thursday, but he's made just 28% of his shots for 12.0 PPG versus the Clippers this season. PG Ty Lawson (16.7 PPG, 7.1 APG) has been on a scoring tear in his past 11 games with 23.8 PPG (on 51% FG) and 7.8 APG. He hasn't been as effective with Chris Paul guarding him this season though, averaging just 15.0 PPG on 45.5% FG and 5.0 APG in the two meetings. SG Andre Iguodala (13.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.0 APG) has averaged 10.5 PPG and 5.0 APG in these two meetings, and enters this game with a well-rounded 13.0 PPG, 7.6 APG and 5.6 RPG in his past five games. SF Kenneth Faried (12.0 PPG, 9.6 RPG) is coming off a huge game on Tuesday with 19 points, 12 rebounds and a +20 rating in just 21 minutes of action. He's also averaged a double-double against the Clippers this season with 10.0 PPG and 10.0 APG. Backup PG Andre Miller (9.1 PPG, 5.9 APG) also burned the Kings Tuesday for 16 points on 8-of-11 FG plus seven assists. Miller has 12.0 PPG and 9.0 APG in two games versus L.A. this season.