When it comes down to it, what, exactly, do the seeding games mean in the NBA? Different things to different teams, apparently. And what we have in one of the Wednesday matchups is a game between two teams who are theoretically in competition for playoff position but don't necessarily out a huge priority on it. With only one regular season game left after this, the winner between the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets may end up as the #2 seed in the Western Conference.
It begins at 9:05 PM ET at the AdventHealth Arena (yeah, naming rights suddenly) on the campus of ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex. And BetAnySports customers should remember that they can place wagers while the game is in progress using the software provided through Sports Betting Prime.
There are no guarantees about that if Denver (46-25 SU, 33-34-4 ATS) emerges victorious, because they would still have to win their final game against Toronto, while the Clippers would have to lose against Oklahoma City.
But we're not sure anybody is pushing that hard.
For example, Paul George was pulled from the game with just minutes to go in a tight one against Portland recently, and it took two rare misses at the free throw line from Damian Lillard for the Clippers to pull out a win.
And as they were battling with the Lakers the other night, the Nuggets had Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray riding the pines for the entire fourth period.
That doesn't sound like two teams going all out to secure the #2 playoff seed, does it? So I guess we'll have to handicap accordingly.
Is it about how wants to win it LEAST?
In the odds at BetAnySports upon which our NBA picks are being made, the Clippers are the favorites:
Los Angeles Clippers -5
Denver Nuggets +5
Over 229 points -110
Under 229 points -110
Yeah, it was an encouraging sign for the Nuggets that they were able to take the Lakers down to the wire - inside the final second, in fact - even with all their reserves in there. Fine tuning hasn't been all that possible in the bubble, since Denver, which relies an awful lot on that "ensemble" look, has been missing key pieces like Will Barton and Gary Harris (Jerami Grant also iffy).
Coach Michael Malone has been looking to see if he can buck the recent NBA trend toward going smaller by getting bigger. Unfortunately the legend of Bol Bol is going to take a slower trajectory. After the son of Manute put some brilliance on display in the scrimmage games, he has averaged just five points in his initial NBA regular season activity.
But there's no doubt that if Denver wanted to go out there and push things on the inside, they could. And they are even better with Porter averaging 23.8 ppg in the seeding games. The problem is that such a thing has made them more vulnerable defending the perimeter. A Laker team that could not seem to hit the side of a barn nailed 14 of 29 triples against them. Many of those were uncontested.
Another thing Malone had stressed was that the primary motivation during the seeding games was to stay healthy for the playoffs. The Nuggets hope to be close to full strength when they begin that phase, and to do that Murray may not get all that many minutes. He recently stepped on the floor for the first time since March.
The Clippers (47-23 SU, 39-31 ATS) and 3-3 in the bubble, have recently welcomed back Montrezl Harrell, having given him all the time he needed to mourn the death of his grandmother. He might be able to play as early as Friday, but not here.
When you pull a guy like George in a key situation; when you've managed Kawhi Leonard's "load" along the way, you are focusing on playoff basketball. So the idea of over-using people isn't entering Doc Rivers' mind.
The Clippers should be able to get their share of long-range jumpers off. And there is some octane coming off the bench with Lou Williams. But inasmuch as we minutes being spread liberally among the reserves (who often are guys who encounter more matchup problems defensively), it would not surprise us if there was an offensive "bent" to the proceedings. So we'll go OVER the total on this "important" Western Conference game.
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