Sunday’s NBA main slate features five games. The action gets underway at 7 p.m. ET and the final game tips off at 10 p.m. ET. Let’s survey the slate and pick the best bets for Sunday night.
Nuggets -8 (-110)
Believe it or not, Portland has not only covered four of their last five games, but they won the four covers outright. They were +9, +4.5, +11.5 and +12.5 dogs in those contests. The Nuggets are traveling to Portland after playing at home Saturday night. The Kings nearly upset the Nuggets despite another Nikola Jokic triple-double. The game was tied with one minute remaining, but the Nuggets held on for a win but not a cover.
This is a big number for a team playing on the road on the second leg of a back-to-back. The Trail Blazers might be that bad, but are the Nuggets that good? Denver has covered in seven of their last eight on the road, but they were underdogs in five of those covers. On night two of a back-to-back on the road, the Nuggets are 3-3-1 this season. The push is the only contest where they were the favorite. It seems that in order to dismiss the Nuggets plenty of asterisks are required.
What this all comes down to is Portland. They played well heading into the break, but they have since lost Jusuf Nurkic to injury and Justise Winslow is questionable on Sunday. Without Nurkic on Friday night, the Warriors beat the Trail Blazers 132-95 at Portland. At full strength, Josh Hart and Anfernee Simons would need great nights in order to cover against the Nuggets, Without Nurkic, this line seems too low and is banking on the Nuggets sleepwalking into this one. That should not happen because Denver almost got caught napping on Saturday night.
Clippers -7 (-110)
The Rockets lost to the Magic by eight points on Friday night. Let that sink in. Most people are aware that the Rockets are bad, but not everyone understands how good the Clippers are. The “other team” in Los Angeles does not get any respect. The Clippers lack star power in a city where it’s the only thing that matters. This team is more Milwaukee than Hollywood. The Clippers are blue collar. They win games and cover spreads, and no one cares because they are not headline worthy. Reggie Jackson doesn’t sell tickets. Marcus Morris doesn’t have a hit reality show.
No one on the Clippers strikes fear into the hearts of opponents. Luke Kennard, Terrance Mann, Nic Batum and Robert Covington are all role players. The Clippers are a grand experiment asking, “what would happen if an NBA team were full of role players?” So far, the results are positive for regular season games. Role players do not go off, but they rarely go cold. They each put in their small contribution every night, which isn’t hard, and the sum of each part is enough to beat most teams.
The Clippers have won four of their last five games and have covered in all five contests. In their last game before the All-Star break, they beat the Rockets 142-111, easily covering the -10.5 spread. In that game, in true Clippers fashion, seven Clippers scored double-digit points, and productive periphery stats were spread across the board. In a matchup with the worst defense in the league, the Clippers’ consistent blue collar offense will simply go out and do their job. This game should not be close after the half.
Hornets -10 (-110)
The Pistons are playing the second game on a back-to-back, and they’re on the road. It’s also their third game in four days. This is a challenge for good teams and teams with deep benches. The Pistons are not a good team and they lack depth. Making matters worse is that the Hornets play at the second fastest pace. This is the worst possible scheduling scenario for the Pistons. Detroit’s starting five will have a hard time hanging with the Hornets, and their second unit is in a precarious position. The Hornets’ second line is starting to gel. Kelly Oubre Jr and new addition Montrezl Harrell are flanked by Terry Rozier or LaMelo Ball, and this unit was the key to their victory on Friday night. The Hornets can be an intense offensive team for 48 minutes.
The Hornets’ defense is a major liability, but the Pistons have the second-worst offense in the NBA. Detroit’s defense is slightly better than their offense, but their 25th-ranked defense will struggle at Charlotte against an above-average offense that plays up-tempo. Even though the Hornets have lost nine of 11 and have inexplicably struggled at home (eight losses in the last 10 home games), they got off the mat on Friday night with a big win over Toronto (125-93 as two-point home dogs). The Raptors weren’t quite at full strength, but the Hornets matchup on Sunday night is much weaker.
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