It just takes one freak injury to wreck a team’s hopes. Although the Denver Nuggets are still well-positioned for the NBA play-offs, losing Danilo Gallinari until next season is a huge blow. The Italian was a big part of their success, averaging 16.2 points per night and becoming a consistent three-point threat.
The Nuggets do, however, have one of the most balanced offenses in the league, with no-one averaging more than 17 per game. If they can get Ty Lawson healthy in time for the post-season and retain homecourt advantage in the opening round, there’s no reason to write off their chances to getting through to the Western Conference semi-finals at least.
How they initially adjust will be shown on Saturday night when they host the Houston Rockets, one of only two teams who outscore Denver with a league-high average of 106.1 points. Houston still need two wins to secure a post-season place and these two teams could yet end up meeting each other again in the play-offs. Denver have won all three of their meetings by an average of eight points but with the handicap at +6, take the Rockets at 1.91 and go under the total points line of 213.5 as the Nuggets try to re-group.
With three losses in their last four, this is as close as San Antonio have come to a slump this season. With Oklahoma City threatening their place at the top of the Western Conference standings, losing Tony Parker to injury is the last thing coach Gregg Popovich would want.
There are mixed reports on the Frenchman’s shin problem but if rest is the only cure, we might not see him – or Manu Ginobili – again until the play-offs begin. That could in turn help the Thunder later, with OKC now at 2.10 to win the West ahead of the Spurs at 3.40.
The Atlanta Hawks come to San Antonio tonight having lost 11 of their last 12 meetings with the Spurs. They’re coming off two poor losses and are also weak on the road on back-to-back games. So despite their woes, have a punt on the Spurs on the handicap of -8 at 1.91 and stay under the total points line of 194.0.
Best bet: Under 213.5 total points in Rockets-Nuggets at 1.91