The 2020 NBA Playoffs continue in the bubble Thursday night with the opening contest of the Western Conference semifinal series between the third-seeded Denver Nuggets and second-seeded Los Angeles Clippers.
We have prepared the most important betting tips and trends for this marquee matchup along with our best betting pick, so let’s see what can the sports bettors expect from the Nuggets and Clippers on Thursday.
The Nuggets are missing Will Burton (knee), while the Clippers could be without Patrick Beverley (calf), who’s listed as questionable to play.
The Clippers opened as strong 8-point favorites with a total of 223.0 points on BetAmerica. They are -360 moneyline favorites on Sugarhouse, while the Nuggets are listed as +290 underdogs to win straight up.
What’s at Stake?
The Nuggets and Clippers will battle for the place in the conference finals, but this is only the first game of the series, so it’s early for huge stakes.
The Clippers had a relatively easy job in the first round, although they needed six games to eliminate the Dallas Mavericks. However, the Mavs were quite shorthanded in the last two games, and the Clippers won it comfortably.
On the other side, the Nuggets made a huge comeback, overcoming a 3-1 deficit against the Utah Jazz. They were on the brink of elimination, so the Nuggets’ self-confidence should be sky-high.
The Clippers went 2-1 straight up and ATS against the Nuggets this past regular season including a 124-111 victory as 5.5-point favorites in the bubble. They thrashed off the Nuggets 132-103 in February, while the Nuggets beat the Clippers 114-104 as 1-point home dogs in January.
The Nuggets outlasted the Jazz on the back of Jamal Murray’s incredible performance. Murray scored 50 points in Game 4 and 6 while dropping 42 on Utah in Game 5. Nikola Jokic led the way in Game 7 with 30 points and 14 rebounds.
Denver played some terrible defense early in the Jazz series. They’ve improved over the last few contests and will need to continue with solid defensive work if they want to stand a chance in the semis.
On the other side, Kawhi Leonard is leading the way for the Clippers this postseason, averaging 32.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 5.2 assists which are all team-high. Paul George is tallying just 18.5 points per game on terrible 35.8% shooting from the field, while Lou Williams is adding 16.0 points and 4.3 assists off the bench.
We’ll see who will guard Murray in this series, as Patrick Beverley could miss the start, but the Clippers are loaded with defensive weapons.
I think fatigue will be a decisive factor in the opener, so I’m backing the Clippers to take the lead. The Nuggets have been outstanding over their previous three outings, but they’ve certainly depleted a lot of energy on the way to the semis.
Therefore, my top betting pick is Los Angeles to cover a 6-point spread at -160 odds on BetAmerica. I like to buy a few points now and then, but if you want to take a risk, go with the Clippers at the standard 8-point spread.
I like the Clippers spot in Game 1, so I would stick with the alternative spread and avoid wagering on the totals. The over is 5-4 in the previous nine encounters between the Nuggets and Clippers.