It’s all but over for the NBA play-off hopes of the Denver Nuggets. And it’s now a question of mediocrity or combustion as they enter the home stretch of the regular season.
It’s been a fall back to Earth for the Nuggets who are just 14-16 at home, a year after finishing a league-best 38-3 at the Pepsi Center. Injuries have killed their hopes, with constant changes to the line-up, the adjustments made by rookie coach Brian Shaw and the resurgence of the West.
And they now sit 10 games outside the top eight, giving them an impossible task to avoid a first post-season miss in 11 years.
That effectively makes it a four-way battle for seventh and eighth spot, with Minnesota needing a major push and Memphis capable of maintaining their recent surge.
Phoenix, who have surprised when they were expected to slump, could yet fall back into the Lottery, but it’s the Dallas Mavericks whose staying power is in question as they head to Denver on Wednesday.
Losers of two straight, the Mavs are a horrific 14-18 against opponents with .500 records or better (Phoenix are 16-12 and Memphis 18-15). If they make the play-offs, they’ll scare no-one.
What they do well is pick off the lesser lights but with Ty Lawson back for Denver, there are signs that the Nuggets can at least save face from this miserable campaign.
They’re good value at 2.55 to end a six-game skid but expect points at a rate of knots with a total of over 221.5 available at 2.25.
Detroit – Chicago
No-one wants to face the Chicago Bulls in the play-offs and their offensive breakout has been huge with a 14-2 mark when they score over 100, and a 23-3 record when leading opponents in field goal percentage.
The Bulls, who are 8-2 over their last ten games, visit the Detroit Pistons off a rare off night in losing to Brooklyn. Yet they’re a smart team that makes quick adjustments and there’s great value in going over the total points line of 204.5 at 4.00.
Best bet: Take Denver to defeat Dallas at 2.55