For Denver head coach George Karl and San Antonio counterpart Gregg Popovich, a dilemma looms.
Do they save their stars for the forthcoming NBA play-offs, or make a push for the highest possible seeding over these last few games and run the gauntlet of possible injuries?
Both teams will be short-handed for their Wednesday clash in Denver. The Nuggets will be hoping that leading scorer Ty Lawson can return by the end of the regular season to compensate for the long-term absence of Danilo Gallinari, while the Spurs likely to put Boris Diaw beside Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili on the rehab list.
Absenteeism hasn’t impacted too heavily on the Nuggets, who have won four straight and scored above their season-average of 105.9 points in three of those victories. But San Antonio, still with a slender hold on top seed, have dropped back without two of their All Stars, failing to score above 96 points – well below their 103.5 average – in their last five, during which they’ve lost three to elite rivals Miami, Oklahoma City and Memphis.
They’ll face a tough test again as Denver tries to win the season series between the two, after one previous win apiece. A league-best 35-3 at home, it’s worth backing the Nuggets on the handicap of -3 at 1.91 but the Spurs have an effective enough defence to keep the total points below the line of 204.5.
With Golden State and Houston now definitely play-off bound, the Los Angeles Lakers jumped over Utah into the last available berth in the West with a win over New Orleans on Tuesday and they’ll get the chance to move further ahead when they travel to Portland tonight.
The Trailblazers are there for the taking, having lost eight straight by an average of 15.8 points as their post-season hopes have blown up in spectacular style. The Lakers look like a safe bet on the handicap at 1.91 to turn up the heat on the Jazz.
Bet of the Day: Take Denver -3 against San Antonio at 1.91
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