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Clippers battle Nuggets
Late Night TNT Basketball

L.A. Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets (-4.5); Total set at 215

The L.A. Clippers are on the back end of a back-to-back tonight and there couldn't be a tougher spot this game. Denver is known for its altitude and great home court advantage and both are quite dominant this season. Denver is tied for the league's best home record at 26-3 SU and has already blown out the Clippers once this year in this building. Can they do it again?

Well that 92-78 win for the Nuggets came on New Year's Day; a week after Denver was in L.A. on Xmas and lost 112-100 to the Clippers. Revenge was clearly on their mind for that one and you also have to wonder how focused the Clippers were on the road after celebrating the New Year the night before. But tonight's game is huge for both teams as the winner of this one will hold the edge in terms of tie-breaking scenarios should they be needed down the stretch. Denver trails the Clippers by 3.5 games in the standings so quite a bit would have to change for that to happen, but in the NBA you just never know.

So both teams will be gunning for the win tonight and because of that I believe we see the defensive intensity quite high tonight. This total of 215 is this high because we have two of the top 9 scoring teams in the NBA but it appears to be over-adjusted. The totals for the previous two games topped out at 207 (game in Denver) and they are 1-1 O/U so far. Now it will be tough to expect these two to score as few as 170 like they did in that last meeting, but 215 is still a very high number, especially when you've got the potential for the Lakers to lose their legs down the stretch as a tired team.

What may be more important though and goes somewhat unnoticed behind these offenses is that both of these squads rank in the top-12 in the NBA in FG % allowed and both are under 45%. Denver is the worse of the two at 44.5% but with their up-tempo, running style they will give up some points. Yet when they buckle down in the half court they can stop anyone and with monsters like Faried cleaning up the glass, one-and-done's are a common occurrence for Nuggets opponents.

On the other side, the Clippers only allow opponents to score on 43.9 % of their shots and that defensive pressure gets ramped up on the road. L.A has kept teams to less than 100 points in nine of their last 13 away from home, and of the four games they didn't; only the Heat scored more than 106. One of those four was also against the Lakers (101 scored), but it's really tough to consider that a "true" road game for the Clippers. Only twice in those nine sub-100 contests did the Clippers cash tickets for "over" bettors and that was because the totals were below 190. Slowing down the Nuggets offense at home but I believe the Clippers will find a way given they kept them to only 92 last time they were here.

Take the under.

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