Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets Preview
Things in the Western Conference move mighty quickly, and the Los Angeles Clippers, who hold on to a narrow 1.5 game lead over the Sacramento Kings, will have to keep winning to stay in the playoff picture with 22 games left on the schedule. They’ll be on the road tonight as they take on the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center.
The Clippers have won their last two games even after going through a big midseason roster overhaul. They are 33-27 on the season and have split their last 10 games. The Nuggets are just 1.5 games behind the first place Golden State Warriors. They have a 40-18 record on the season, have won their last three and are 7-3 in their last 10. They can get even closer to the Warriors with a win tonight since Golden State lost to Houston last night.
In their last matchup on January 10, the Nuggets blew out the Clippers with a 121-100 win. They were led by center Nikola Jokic, who finished with a triple-double of 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists. The Clippers were led by Lou Williams, who had 19 points and five assists in the losing effort.
Time: 5:00pm ET
Arena: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
Channel: NBA TV
LA Clippers Starting Lineup
Even after trading away their best player and undergoing almost a complete roster overhaul at the trade deadline, Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer wants his team in the playoffs and does not want them tanking for the draft lottery. The fact that they made such wholesale changes and they would owe the Boston Celtics their first round pick if they make the playoffs as opposed to two-second rounders if they didn’t, tanking might seem like the best possible option, but Ballmer wants the Clippers to compete and the team looks to be shooting for improving the team in free agency, especially if they can land Kawhi Leonard.
While the Clippers have a favorable schedule for the remainder of the season, it won’t be easy tonight as they face a team that is pretty much a lock to be a top seed in the playoffs in the Denver Nuggets.
The Clippers won their first game after the All-Star break on Friday 112-106 over the Memphis Grizzlies. Montrezl Harrell came off the bench for 30 big points and Danilo Gallinari had 23 points and eight rebounds.
The Clippers used a small ball lineup of Patrick Beverley, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shamet, Gallinari and Ivica Zubac. Their other sparkplug in the second unit, Lou Williams, finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, and five assists.
A third-quarter collapse nearly cost the Clippers their second consecutive win, but they rallied in the fourth. They won’t be able to have those lapses today against the Nuggets.
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup
The Nuggets enter tonight’s game on a three-game streak with wins coming over the Miami Heat, Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks.
In their 114-104 win over the Mavericks on Friday night, the Nuggets were able to outlast an early Mavs scoring run and ended up pouring in 39 points in the third quarter to seal the deal early.
It was the return of guard Isaiah Thomas, who has been injured all season. In just 16 minutes, he scored 16 points, making his presence felt immediately.
“We had a deep bench already but adding him in the mix, I think he makes us even more deep,” forward Paul Millsap said recently.
The Nuggets have maintained one of the top records in the league even while being plagued with injuries all season. They are as close now to a clean bill of health as they have been all season. Thomas was one of seven Nuggets players who finished with double digits in scoring, including Nikola Jokic, who nearly had a triple-double, with 19 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.
Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets Betting Odds
The Nuggets are 8.5-point favorites to win tonight’s game at home, where they are 25-4. The Nuggets are also 33-10 as the favorite. The Clippers are 17-15 on the road and 10-19 as the underdog.
The over/under is 235 points and the Nuggets are -430 on the moneyline after opening at -450.
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