DENVER NUGGETS @ LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: OVER/UNDER 215.5
The Western Conference semifinals started off with some promise of two decent NBA playoff series that could give us a reason to be excited. The Nuggets and Rockets showed up frisky and determined to take down the two LA big dogs. Four games into each series, it’s clear that the LA teams just needed a little bit of time to wake up, and we will likely get the battle of Los Angeles in the WCF.
THE SERIES SO FAR
The Nuggets are just one game from elimination and fighting for their lives in this Friday night showdown. My lean here is on the game total. The four games in this NBA playoff series have resulted in three unders and one push, depending on your book. You probably think that means I’m thinking under for this one too, right? Think again.
While I’m typically a slave to the trends, I don’t read a ton into the four-game sample that we have seen so far. Removing the 96-85 Clippers victory circa 2004 in game four, the other three games have been fairly close on the game total. Game one went under by 6.5 points, and game three was a push. Game two is the only other outlier, and that came in a Denver victory, which I don’t see happening again.
The total for tonight’s game has clearly been adjusted: It’s a full six points less than what it was in game four, and down even more from games one and two. This seems like a prime opportunity for the over to hit in my eyes. Michael Porter Jr. called out the Nuggets team for not spreading the ball out enough after game four. And I’m curious to see if anything will change in game five. Yes, for this over to hit, we’ll need to see some big performances out of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokić. But we’ll also need a few other Denver role players to step up.
While I don’t think Denver will win this game tonight, they are a team playing with their back against the wall and will be coming for blood. Before this series against the Clippers, the over was 13-1 in their previous 14 games. That was a stat that really jumped out at me. Yes, the Clippers are an incredible defensive team, but I believe a team fighting for their life will be doing everything they possibly can to play their game and fill up the box score.
Factor in that the Clippers are also playing a close-out game and will have to keep up with the scoring pace, and we have our over. I don’t think this is a pick that many will be on tonight. But I see it as a good opportunity to root for some buckets for a change.
THE PICK: OVER 215.5