Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets NBA Odds, Preview and Prediction

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Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP

The Portland Trail Blazers may have hit rock bottom. Are they the right NBA pick for Thursday’s matchup with the Denver Nuggets?

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets

Thursday, January 13, 2022 – 10:00 PM EST at Ball Arena

Stick a fork in the Portland Trail Blazers – they’re done. Damian Lillard reportedly plans to undergo abdominal surgery at some point in the near future, which would keep him out of action for at least the next 6-8 weeks, and probably a lot longer.

With CJ McCollum still recovering from his collapsed lung, and Norman Powell in league protocol, the Blazers will be down to the nubbins without Lillard in uniform. This would make Portland (16-24 SU, 15-24-1 ATS) a classic contrarian NBA pick for Thursday’s game against the Denver Nuggets (20-19 SU, 16-23 ATS).

We’re not sure whether to pull the trigger, though; the Nuggets are 8-point home favorites overseas as I write this, and FiveThirtyEight project them to win by 9.5 points. Stupid quants with their stupid math, ruining our fun.

Dame It All

And we had such a great narrative building, too. The Trail Blazers are 3-2 SU and ATS since Lillard (plus-1.5 BPM at Basketball Reference) made his latest trip to the infirmary, including back-to-back wins over the Sacramento Kings (–2 away) and Brooklyn Nets (–8.5 away).

Lillard is already one of the more over-valued commodities in NBA betting; he’s also been having his worst season since he was a rookie back in 2012-13. The old “fade/follow” dynamic is very much in play here.

Plus, the Nuggets are a mess in and of themselves. Their situation isn’t nearly as dire as Portland’s, especially with Nikola Jokić (plus-13.4 BPM) playing as well as he has. But Jokić doesn’t have much of a supporting cast around him right now.

Jamal Murray (knee) and Michael Porter Jr. (back) are both out long-term, possibly for the entire season, and Will Barton is day-to-day with a sore toe. The short-handed Nuggets are 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS in their last five – making them a juicy “fade” partner to Portland’s follow.

Rocky Mountain Low

Those projections, though. If Nate Silver’s crew thinks Denver has some betting value here, who are we to argue? Wait, it’s our job to argue. We faded the Nuggets in their most recent game against the Los Angeles Clippers, and sure enough, the Clippers – also missing their top players in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George – beat Denver 87-85 as 2.5-point home dogs. Delicious.

Still, there’s no point fighting the math here, not when there’s a total we can bet instead. That final against the Clippers leave the Under at 4-1 in Denver’s last five games; the Under is also on a three-game streak for the Trail Blazers, helped considerably by the absences of Lillard and McCollum.

We’re still waiting for the opening totals on the overseas NBA lines, but if you see a healthy total when those lines finally hit our shores, hammer it with extreme prejudice. For your best bets, It’s just the right thing to do.

NBA Pick: Under 215.5 (-110) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Under 215.5 (-110)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.