Chemistry is a fragile thing in the NBA. Which is why the Denver Nuggets might live to regret their off-season tinkering after threatening to break into the elite.
Having fired coach George Karl following their first round play-off exit, the Brian Shaw era got off to a losing start with defeat to Sacramento on Wednesday and it is a much-changed look from 12 months ago.
Only once in the pre-season did Denver score over 98 points, and that was in an overtime contest. From being the darlings of offensive-minded basketball, they now look set to struggle to score points this season, even when Danilo Gallinari returns from injury in around five week’s time.
Shaw has installed a defence which relies less on gambles and more on man-to-man coverage, which will bring down points conceded but also lead to fewer scores off turnovers. Plus they have no effective replacement for Andre Iguodala.
The Nuggets host the Portland Trailblazers tonight which figures to give us an early benchmark of how far they’ve fallen off the pace. The Blazers, having done very little to improve in the summer, have won one only one of their last 19 trips to Colorado and they were swept in the season series in 2012-13. But have a punt on Portland on the handicap of +5 at 1.87 to push Denver all the way and keep the total points below the forecast line of 198.
After their opening shock of the Clippers, the LA Lakers crashed back to earth with a huge loss at Golden State and their poor shooting figures could cost them dearly when San Antonio come calling. The Spurs' bench has the capacity to match their counterparts and with their ability to swarm Steve Nash on the perimeter, don’t be surprised if the Lakers get held under 85 points en route to another lop-sided loss.
Go under the total points line of 198 in Denver-Portland at 1.85
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