Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM

Inside the Paint - Tuesday

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Game of the Night (TNT, 10:35 p.m. ET)
Denver (51-25 SU, 39-37 ATS) at Golden State (52-24 SU, 32-43-1 ATS)

The NBA has two weeks left in the regular season and the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference is still up for grab as the Nuggets and Warriors continue to battle for the top spot.

Golden State owns a one-game lead over Denver and a win at home on Tuesday would give Steve Kerr’s club the head-to-head tie-breaker in the season series. The Warriors have certainly cruised a lot this season and they’ve burned bettors along the way at times but the head coach appears to be focused on tonight's nationally televised contest.

"It’s a big game," Kerr said. "Nothing is as big as a playoff game, but it’s a big game in terms of the No. 1 seed and protecting our home court. We take care of our business and win tomorrow, we’re obviously in great shape down the stretch with the last 10 days of the season."

The Warriors opened as 7 ½-point home favorites on Monday and the line has been pushed up to -8 at most betting shops. NBA expert Tony Mejia weighs in on the possible preview of this year’s Western Conference Finals.

He said, “The Warriors’ killer instinct will be on trial tonight. Although Andre Iguodala rested instead of practicing on Monday and Kevin Durant and Quinn Cook flew back to Washington D.C. for a funeral, Steve Kerr will have everyone on the roster available to him besides backup Damian Jones so he’s going to be able to get a great look at what he can throw out there to best match up with the Nuggets in a potential conference finals. These teams won’t see each other before then, so Kerr should theoretically empty the barrel in an effort to lock in on homecourt advantage by going up two games and picking up a head-to-head tiebreaker with just five left to play. The Warriors lost the first meeting between these teams but have run right past them in both 2019 games, scoring 51 first-quarter points on Jan. 15 in Denver, shooting 60 percent while exposing how out of place Nikola Jokic can look against teams that can efficiently push pace.”

“The 142-11 rout came pre-DeMarcus Cousins, who was in the mix on March 8, starting and contributing as the Dubs used a 28-11 start to again pick up a wire-to-wire win. Cousins had six blocks in the 122-105 rout while Jokic slipped to a minus-50 over the last two games against Golden State. Denver hasn’t led for a single second in either game, so we’ll get to see if Mike Malone has figured anything out about how to better help Jokic get his bearings. Coming off a game where he was so frustrated with the officiating that he got himself ejected, this will be a great opportunity to see how resilient he and the Nuggets can be. If the Warriors come out looking to step on their throat, it will be much easier to justify them being a 4-to-9 favorite to win it all. If the Dubs come out flat for a game where they actually could lose something as significant as homecourt, I’d begin to consider them being vulnerable. Their 137-90 rout of Charlotte on Sunday was a good sign they’re locked in,” added Mejia.

Prior to those double-digit wins and covers by Golden State, the Nuggets have hung around in this series and they’re surprisingly very good versus the number but a lot of those lines have been inflated. Including the aforementioned 17-point loss recently on Mar. 19 from Oracle Arena, Denver is 1-7 in its last eight trips to Oakland. However, they’ve gone 5-2-1 ATS but the club was getting 10-plus points in six of those games and as high as 17 ½-points.

Denver’s 95-90 loss as a 10 ½-point home favorite to Washington on Sunday certainly looks alarming and only scoring 28 points in the second-half against a shoddy defensive club doesn’t look good. While that effort could be an anomaly, the Nuggets have now been held under 100 points in four of their last five games and that’s resulted in a 2-3 record. If you can’t break the century mark on Golden State, you shouldn’t even get off the bus.

Despite its solid overall record, Denver has been installed as an underdog 21 times this season and the team has gone 10-11 SU and 11-10 ATS in that role. Delving into those numbers further, the ‘under’ has gone 14-7 in those games and that includes a 6-1 run to the low side in the last seven.

The total for Tuesday opened 220 ½ and has dropped to 219 ½, the lowest number posted in this year’s matchups. The drop-off makes sense as these two teams have been great ‘under’ bets in the second-half of the season. The Warriors have gone 14-5 to the low side while Denver is 16-3 to the ‘under.’


Tuesday’s card has three other games on tap and all of them feature playoff teams versus non-playoff teams. As expected, the clubs headed to the postseason are healthy favorites.

L.A. Lakers at Oklahoma City: The Thunder are laying a big price (-13) and you could be scratching your head why the number is so high. OKC got tripped up in this role against the Lakers at home on Jan. 17 as Los Angeles captured a 138-128 upset as a 10-point road underdog. When you look at current form, backing L.A. looks even more tempting. The club has gone 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS in its last five games, the best ATS run of the season for the Lakers. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City has dropped two straight and seven of its last nine games. And backing the Thunder as double-digit home favorites this season hasn’t been profitable (7-4 SU, 4-7 ATS).

Atlanta at San Antonio: The Spurs (-10 ½) are also listed as double-digit home favorites tonight and they’ve gone 5-1 SU and 2-4 ATS in that role. The lone loss just occurred Sunday as they dropped a 113-106 decision to Sacramento as a 10 ½-point home favorite. Including that setback, the Spurs are 2-4 SU and 1-4-1 ATS in their last six games. While San Antonio has struggled lately, Atlanta continues to turn heads and Sunday’s 136-135 home win over Milwaukee was impressive. The Hawks have gone 4-1 both SU and ATS in their last five games. Since the All-Star break, Atlanta has gone 14-5 ATS and that includes a 5-1 mark for bettors away from home. San Antonio defeated the Hawks 111-104 as a 5 ½-point home favorite on Mar. 6. Fun historical fact - the Hawks haven’t won at San Antonio since 1997 when the Spurs had former Atlanta great Dominique Wilkins playing for them.

Houston at Sacramento: Quick rematch here as the pair just met on Saturday from the Toyota Center and the Rockets (-10) rallied past the Kings 119-108 as home favorites. For Tuesday, Houston opened as a five-point read favorite and it will be looking to complete a 4-0 season sweep of the Kings both SU and ATS. In the second-half, Houston has gone 7-3 on the road (5-4-1 ATS) while the Kings have gone 4-4 at home since the All-Star break but all four losses came to playoff teams while the wins were against teams with losing records.

Chris David can be reached at [email protected]

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