Two of the top teams in the NBA‘s Western Conference will square off in a huge matchup on Wednesday night in Orlando. The LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets could potentially meet up in the Western Conference semifinals as things stand right now. The Clippers are currently second in the Western Conference standings, while the Nuggets are third.
The biggest question is which team will finish where, as Los Angeles has a 1.5-game lead on Denver with each team having two games to play, including this matchup.
The LA Clippers have gone 3-3 so far during the restart, and they bring a 47-23 record into this game. Denver has also gone 3-3 in Orlando, and they are 46-25 on the season.
The LA Clippers are 5.5-point favorites over the Denver Nuggets in this showdown.
Clippers Odds: George, Leonard Carrying LA
The Clippers have dealt with a ton of injuries since arriving in Orlando, but their two main stars remain on the floor. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are leading the way on offense for the Clippers.
The dynamic duo has combined for more than 48 points per game this season, and they are tough matchups for the Nuggets. The Clippers are scoring 116.4 points per game in 2020, and that is the fourth-best scoring average in the league.
Los Angeles is still missing Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, as well as Patrick Beverley, though all three players are considered to be fine for the postseason next week, if not Friday’s regular-season finale.
Still, without that trio, it will be on George and Leonard to carry more of the offensive load against the Nuggets. It will be interesting to see how much coach Doc Rivers plays his veterans in this one.
He may opt to rest them more in this game and have everyone ready to go on Friday to get the one win Los Angeles needs to clinch second place in the West.
Nuggets Odds: Defense Letting Denver Down
The Denver Nuggets have been a great defensive team this season, but that hasn’t been the case in the last few games. Denver has allowed at least 124 points in each of their last four games despite allowing just 108.9 points per game on average.
Nikola Jokic remains the most important player for the Nuggets, and he continues to do everything he can for his team. Jokic is averaging 20.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game during the 2019-20 regular season.
The Nuggets are coming off a loss to the Lakers on Monday, coming when Kyle Kuzma hit a last-second jumper. But Denver can feel good about itself despite the loss, as Jamal Murray continued to play well after sitting out the first four games of the restart in Orlando.
Denver will have to figure its defense out in a hurry if they are going to go on a deep playoff run, but getting everyone healthy in time for next week will certainly help.
Pick for Clippers vs. Nuggets
Even though both teams are simply gearing up for the playoffs at this point, this should still be a terrific game. The Clippers can really score, and Denver is typically a great defensive team.
Denver has been a little sloppy on defense of late, and that could give the Clippers all the advantage that they need. Los Angeles can score points in a hurry, and that will allow them to win this game.
The Nuggets are still just trying to prepare themselves for next week’s postseason, so coach Michael Malone may go with his bench a bit more to rest some of his starters.
Bet the LA Clippers -5.5 over the Denver Nuggets in this game.