A couple of above-average teams come into conflict in the Mile High City today as the 2-0 Washington Wizards visit the 1-1 Denver Nuggets (9pm ET Monday).
Both teams have looked just OK to start their seasons. Washington has squeaked out two wins against unimpressive competition, while Denver squandered a lead against the Utah Jazz before routing the Detroit Pistons.
Washington’s strength lies in the offensive punch of its starting point guard, shooting guard and small forward. Denver, meanwhile, gets a lot of production from its starting big men and its bench.
Which type of roster construction will pay off today? A few key factors will determine the outcome, so let’s identify those before making our betting preview’s predictions and picks in a bid to outsmart the online betting sites for Americans.
Can Paul Millsap Take Advantage of Markieff Morris Being Out?
Normally, the Wizards would have a decent power forward to throw at Millsap, the Nuggets’ four-time All-Star. Markieff Morris has pretty good size and defends well. However, he’s still recovering from the sports hernia surgery he had in September.
Washington will either start Kelly Oubre or Jason Smith in Morris’ place. Oubre is a long wing with great athleticism, but not much strength. Smith is a seven-footer, but Millsap is considerably quicker. Both players will struggle to match up with Denver’s prized offseason acquisition.
The stage is set for a big game for Millsap. Will he come through, or will Washington find a way to put the clamps on him?
Can the Wizards’ Starting Perimeter Guys Get Their Three-Point Games Going?
In 2016-17, the Wizards’ vaunted perimeter trio of John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter combined for 5.9 made three-pointers per game on an excellent percentage of 39.5. This season, those numbers are down to 2.5 per game and 25 percent through two games.
Now, Washington is 2-0, but both of its games have been at home against mediocre competition. The Nuggets are a better team than the Philadelphia 76ers or Detroit Pistons. Against the Nuggets’ defense, which is below-average, Washington must prioritize getting open outside looks for its three best players.
Will Nikola Jokic Find His Groove in the Offense Again?
Anybody who watched even one of the Nuggets’ games last season knows what Jokic’s best offensive skill is: it’s passing. Denver runs its offense through that skill, letting Jokic make plays with the ball out of the post.
But he’s also proven to be a very capable scorer. The young Serbian center averaged 16.7 points in just 27.9 minutes per contest last year on 57.8 percent shooting from the floor. While Jokic is averaging 7.5 assists per game this year, he has scored a total of only seven points in two games. His shooting percentage is just 23.1.
Until Jokic proves that his shooting touch from inside and outside is back, the Wizards can overplay for his passes and force him to score. The Nuggets center needs to prove once again that he’s a threat both as a scorer and playmaker.
Our Preview’s Washington Wizards vs. Denver Nuggets Betting Predictions & Picks
The Wizards and Nuggets are very evenly-matched teams, but I do give the slight edge to Denver with Markieff Morris out. The Nuggets’ superior starting frontcourt and bench makes up for the Wizards’ advantages at the starting perimeter positions.
Jokic should bounce back against a slower Marcin Gortat in the post, giving Denver a win by at least a handful of points.
- All major sites are favoring the Nuggets by 3 points at home. Place your bet on the Nuggets -3 @ 110 with Bovada, 5Dimes or Bookmaker.
- By the end of this season, I believe both of these squads will be in the top half of the league in both pace and offensive rating. Against each other, it should be a reasonably high scoring affair. The lowest over-under is 222.5pts, bet over @ -110 with BetOnline or MyBookie.