Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets – NBA, January 19, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| January 18, 2021 2:38 pm PST

Not much is separating these two teams right now as they sit third and fourth in the Northwest Division on six wins apiece. Neither team has set the world alight this season, but then again, neither are pushovers.

The Nuggets have undoubtedly had the best of things over recent years, winning eight of the last nine games between the two teams. They have also won the previous five in a row in Denver, so they will be hopeful of winning this one and leapfrogging the Thunder in the standings.

Here is my Thunder vs. Nuggets betting preview.

Thunder vs. Nuggets Odds

Thunder +9-110
Nuggets -9-110
Thunder To Win+425
Nuggets To Win-667
Over 220.5-110
Under 220.5-110

I’m quite frankly amazed at how big the spread is in this one as I made the betting much closer than the bookmakers have. I know the Nuggets have dominated this fixture, especially in Denver, but I never dreamt that the handicap would be just shy of double digits.

The Nuggets have a good record as the betting favorite this season, having won six of the nine games that they were installed as such by the bookmakers.

Thunder News

The Thunder bounced back against the Bulls last time out, having previously lost back to back games against the Spurs and the Lakers. It was a hard-fought win that was decided in overtime after the two teams finished level at the end of regular time. The Thunder trailed by 18 at halftime but rallied to win 127-125.

Only the Lakers have a better record in the Western Conference than the Thunder on the road this season. They have won five of their six road trips to date, including winning the last three in a row against the Pelicans, Knicks, and Nets.

Here are the latest betting trends for Oklahoma:

Against The Spread

  • They have won four of their last six games.
  • The Thunder have only won one of the last 12 games against the Nuggets.
  • On the road, they have only lost one of their last seven away trips.
  • They have lost the last five in a row against the Nuggets in Denver.

Points Total

  • Four of their last six games have gone over the betting total.

Other Pointers

  • They have only won one of their last six games against opponents in the Western Conference.
  • The Thunder have a good record against teams in the Northwest Division, having won eight of their last 11 games.

The Thunder are severely lacking in attack this season, which is a sharp contrast from years gone by. They have always been known for their attacking prowess, but that just hasn’t been the case this season, and the early signs are that this won’t be changing any time soon. Although their form has been much better away from home, it certainly hasn’t been down to their offense as they only average 106 points per game.

They are scoring at just 33% from outside the ‘D,’ so generally, if games get away from them, they struggle to close the deficit.

They also don’t make teams pay from the free-throw line as they have the fourth-lowest scoring percentage in the league. It, therefore, pays to have an aggressive defense against them.

They need to work the ball better around the court and make better openings instead of forcing the issue.

Their defense has been much better, especially on the road, where it has been excellent. This could be down to the fact that they are averaging the third-highest number of defensive rebounds per game in the league, but at the other end, they have the second-lowest average.

They were initially hoping to have both Ariza and Jerome back for this game, but they have since been ruled out. They are also missing Center Horford for personal reasons.

Nuggets News

The Nuggets have won three of their last five games. However, those two defeats came in the previous three games against the Nets and the Jazz last time out.

They haven’t looked good in Denver so far this season, losing five of their first eight games at home. They have struggled for consistency, alternating wins and losses in their last seven games at home.

Here are the latest betting trends for Denver:

Against The Spread

  • They have only won four of their last 14 games.
  • This includes only winning one of their last five games at home.

Points Total

  • The betting total has gone over in 12 of their last 16 games.
  • Ten of their last 13 games against teams from the Western Conference have gone over the total.

Other Pointers

  • Like the Thunder, they also have a good record against teams in the Northwest Division, winning five of their last six games.
  • The Nuggets have a 13-7 record in their last 20 games played in January.

The Nuggets have a good offense this season that will give anyone in the league a decent game. They are scoring at just under 50%, which makes them competitive most nights. They are one of the best teams at moving the ball around the court, which is the Thunder’s worst nightmare and probably why their field goal percentage is so high.

However, their defense is lacking and certainly needs some work if they are to become more consistent and string more wins together. Unlike the Thunder, they don’t rebound the ball well defensively, averaging the lowest number per game in the league.

Their Serbian superstar, Nikola Jokic, is arguably having his best season ever this year. I like him because he plays well regardless of how well the team is doing. It’s easy to play well when the team is doing well, but it takes a lot more to shine in defeat, just as he did against the Jazz last time out.

The Nuggets currently have Porter Jr. out as he is in quarantine at present, and Point Forward Whittingham is listed as questionable for this game.

Thunder vs. Nuggets Betting Pick

Pick
  • Thunder +9
    -110

Although these two teams have a similar record this season, their teams are very contrasting. The Nuggets are good where the Thunder aren’t and vice versa. Despite Denver having the best of things between these two recently, they have only covered this spread once. I have to go with my gut here, and that is that the spread is way too big, so take the Thunder with the handicap.

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