The battle for the west has gotten real.
The Golden State Warriors have managed to keep a 1.5 game lead over the Denver Nuggets, and the Houston Rockets have finally managed to overcome the Portland Trail Blazers.
Speaking of the Nuggets and the Blazers, Friday night they’ll do tangle in Denver. Meanwhile, the Clippers and Lakers will have the battle for Los Angeles as the Clips try to move in on the Utah Jazz for that No. 5 seed in the playoffs. Bovada Sportbook has some great NBA bonuses and will have the odds on the games. For now, let’s break it down from a statistical standpoint.
Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets | 10:30 PM ET @ Pepsi Center
The Denver Nuggets are doing so well because of their stellar defense. At home, they rank No. 3 in the league in points allowed. And they have a top-6 defense in all scenarios.
The Portland Trail Blazers defense has slid this year, what had been a top-ten D is now No. 13 at 110 points per game. It is not a good thing, but at least on the road they don’t get any worse, also No. 13 in the league (111 ppg allowed).
Offensively, the Blazers are scoring 144.56 points per game. Good enough for No. 6 in the NBA. The Nuggets put up 110.78, which is way back at No. 19. But, With a home D that only allows a little over 103 points per game, going against a road defense that gives away 111 on average, the Blazers offensive advantage is more than nullified.
On a neutral floor, the point margin with defense factored in would be virtually zero. But when we look at road vs. home numbers, the Nuggets are almost ten points better on average. And the Nuggets have won in both meetings with the Portland Trail Blazers this season. That said, each game was close. In Portland, the Nuggets scraped out a 113-112 win. In Denver, it was 116-113. So, just because the averages largely favor Denver, look for the Blazers to keep it close.
The problem for the Blazers now is depth. CJ McCollum is still out and the Portland Center Curse is alive and well. Jusuf Nurkic went down the other day with a season-ending ankle injury. Nurkic helps the Blazers on both sides of the ball, and with him absent, the Denver Nuggets are likely to get the win on Friday night.
Lakers vs. Clippers | 10:30 PM @ STAPLES Center
Technically it’s a road game for the Los Angeles Lakers, but because it actually isn’t we can’t justify comparing home vs. away numbers here.
Something to note is that the Clippers have dominated the Lakers in their last 10 meetings, winning eight out of ten. ON top of that, the Clips have covered the spread 70% of the time against the purple and gold.
Last time around, the Clippers were 3.5-point underdogs, but they smashed the lakers 113-105. The key to victory was the fact that the Clippers stole the ball seven times. Now we have a situation where the Lakers are broken. Lebron James is done for the season. Tyson Chandler has the flu, so he may or may not play. Brandon Ingram is out with a bunk shoulder. Lonzo Ball probably shouldn’t have been wearing Big Baller Brand … because it got him a season-ending ankle injury. Kyle Kuzma is questionable, and Josh Hart is done for the year with a bum knee. So, basically, no depth whatsoever.
Patrick Beverly has been struggling with a hip injury, but other than that, the Los Angeles Clippers are healthy. So what is the prognosis? We don’t have to go into this into too much detail. Unless the Clippers play light and cocky because of the shattered Lakers’ roster, they will destroy the Lakers and move one step closer to the No. 5 seed.