The Denver Nuggets have dropped two straight games as they welcome the Sacramento Kings to town. Will the altitude and motivation not to lose three straight lead Denver to a win and cover at the NBA odds.
Sacramento Kings vs. Denver Nuggets
Friday, January 07, 2022 – 09:00 PM EST at Ball Arena
Nuggets’ Defense Is Improving
Denver’s defense has been their calling card for most of this current iteration with Nikola Jokic and Mike Malone as coach, but at times this season's defense has been falling by the wayside.
Denver is usually a top 10 defense, or at least in the top half of the league in that department, but this season they rank 17th with a defensive rating of 109.2.
That’s not terrible by any means. It’s close to league average, but it’s not good enough for the Nuggets to compete for a title.
Injuries and illnesses have obviously played a role as well, but lately, the Nuggets seem to be turning things around on the defensive end of the court.
Over their last seven games with some postponements helping out their rest schedule during that stretch, the Nuggets rank seventh in the NBA in defense, allowing 107 points per 100 possessions.
If you isolate Denver’s first-half defense during that time period, they are even better with a defensive rating of 104.9. That’s where I’m attacking here tonight with the Kings coming to town.
One usually doesn’t use the term “defense,” and the “Kings,” in the same sentence, but they too have been playing better defense lately. Over that same seven-game stretch where the Nuggets have been top 5 in first-half defense, the Kings have been top 10, allowing 107.7 points per 100 possessions in the first 24 minutes of their games.
The Sharp Pick
You can probably see where I’m going with this, but for my play on this game, we’re rolling with the first half under at 115.5 available at the top-rated sportsbooks.
It’s simply too high for how these two have played over the last few weeks of the season and with several pieces for both teams still missing, the offense may be hard to come by early in the game.
Denver will have to control the pace if they want to cash the under for us though. The Nugs rank 25th in pace during the first halves of their home games, while the Kings rank second in the NBA in the road first-half pace.
For us to cash this game, Denver will have to control the tempo from the opening tipoff. If they don’t and they fall behind, the Kings will simply try to speed them up enough where the under loses and the Kings probably cover.
The Nuggets might get Jeff Green back tonight who is questionable. While Green has been a consistent part of the Nuggets’ offense, his defense will also be a welcome addition to this game tonight if he can play.
This will be the first of four meetings between these two teams this season, so hopefully, there is no feeling out period where the defensive lapses in the first half.
Add the under to your NBA picks tonight and let’s cash another ticket!
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