Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets Matchup Preview
You knew the NBA was going to set up this game for Christmas Day. The Nuggets battled back from 3-1 to beat the Clippers last season. Surely there will be a bad taste in the Clippers mouths, but don’t call Kawhi Shirly. Denver will welcome back Will Barton. With Michael Porter Jr evolving into a quality player, we see a powerful Nuggets team again led by Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. The Clippers didn’t make many changes in the offseason, outside of adding Serge Ibaka and Nicolas Batum. They trimmed some of the dead weight, and there were some off the court chemistry problems. The biggest change remains Doc Rivers now in Philadelphia and Ty Lue, the coach in Los Angeles. The Clippers are slight road favorites in this one, but this will be a tough task. For odds movement and full matchup history, visit the Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets Matchup Page.
Time: 10:30 PM ET
Arena: Ball Arena, Denver, CO
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Clippers Starting 5
The Clippers came out strong in the opener, and I am sure getting off on the right foot this season would be key. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined for 59 points. George was the more efficient shooter, going 13-of-18 and 5-of-8 from three. Serge Ibaka made his Clippers debut playing 21 minutes and scoring 15 and 6. I was more impressed with Zubac, who was +17 in 27 minutes and had an 11 and 6 line. Nicolas Batum has not been healthy for most of the last few years but joined the Clippers this offseason. He played 28 minutes in his debut and contributed six assists, six rebounds, two steals, and three points. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how they keep this rotation. Like Kennard played 21 minutes, we know Lou Williams will get a bulk of the backup point guard role and a scorer off the bench.
Nuggets Starting 5
Denver suffered an overtime loss in their opener, which was surprising given that they got big production out of a few guys. One of those was Nikola Jokic, who has torched the Clippers of late. He had a 29-15-14 line with three blocks. Michael Porter Jr played 30 minutes and went 9-of-15 from the field, scoring 24 points. If Porter takes another step forward this season, this Nuggets team will be a tough out. We already saw that last season, but they are always darkhorse to make a championship run. Gary Harris looked better this game and hasn’t been right for some time now. He is mainly a defensive guy, and he will have his hands full this game against George. You can point to Jamal Murray struggling in the last game with just nine points and had foul trouble as well. Will Barton is back and healthy, and he played 33 minutes off the bench. He scored 16 points. Denver missed him a lot in the postseason.
Clippers & Nuggets DFS Angle
Jamal Murray has been pretty solid against the Clippers over last season, and we saw him have big games against them in the playoffs. He has averaged 35 fantasy points per game against them in that span. The price tag is a little high, but I like him to the pivot of the more popular names. Patrick Beverley was a strong value on opening night but struggled against Denver last season. If he fits a lineup, I don’t mind him, but there are safer options. Paul George looked great in the opener, and when he gets in a hot streak for shooting, he is one of the top DFS plays on the board. That could be the case already hitting five of eight from three. Kawhi Leonard had 26 shots in the opener and scored 26 points. It was business as usual, and he is a solid pay up option. Michael Porter Jr and Will Barton are mid-range to value options to consider. Nikola Jokic averaged 53 fantasy points in the past ten meetings against the Clippers.
Clippers vs. Nuggets Betting Odds
Clippers Spread: -2.5
Clippers Moneyline: -140
Nuggets Spread: +2.5
Nuggets Moneyline: +120
Over/Under Points Total: 224
This is a battle of two top western teams as they face off in Denver, which has been a tough place to win on the road for many teams. We have a close spread, and I like the Nuggets in this one as a slight upside. Getting a healthy Denver team is a big difference from the end of last year without Will Barton. Nikola Jokic is still the major mismatch for me, even with the Clippers adding Serge Ibaka. I find this one to be a bit higher total for two teams that actually prided themselves on the defensive side at times last season. Early season games will certainly be a tougher thing to gauge with minute rotations and injury reports. However, both teams this week look at full health, and I like Denver at home.
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