Washington Wizards vs. Denver Nuggets Preview and Pick

Washington Wizards (24-24) +11, 209 at Denver Nuggets (29-19), 10:30 pm Eastern Friday, ESPN
by Zman of Predictem.com

The Denver Nuggets continue their pursuit of a Western Conference playoff spot when they host the slumping Washington Wizards in the back half of an NBA/ESPN double-header Friday night.

NBA betting boards list Denver as an 11-point home favorite for Friday’s game, with a total of 209. The Nuggets are also listed at around -700 on the moneylines, with Washington getting +500 as road underdogs.

After falling to San Antonio Wednesday 85-77, the Wizards have now lost five games in a row, and have averaged just 87 point per over that span. Heading into this weekend’s action, Washington sits in second place in the Southeast Division, 6 games behind the first-place Orlando Magic. But the Wiz also own the six spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

Denver had a three-game winning streak snapped by a 118-115 overtime loss to Utah Wednesday. So the Nuggets now trail the first-place Jazz by two games in the Northwest Division. Denver is also involved in a four-team scrum for the last two Western Conference playoff spots, where just one game separates the 7th-seeded Nuggets from the 10th- place Portland Trailblazers.

In the first meeting between these two teams this season, Denver shot 51% from the field on its way to pounding the Wizards in Washington 118-92 back on Nov. 9. The Nuggets used a 33-11 third quarter to take a 31-point lead, and the game managed to just sneak under its total of 211. Last season, these two teams split their two games, but both were played before Denver acquired guard Allen Iverson in a trade with Philadelphia.

Washington is 26-20 against the spread this season, 9-13 straight up and 12-10 vs. the numbers on the road. On the other side of this match-up, the Nuggets are 25-23 ATS this season, 20-6 SU and 15-11 vs. the numbers at home.

Statistically speaking, Denver ranks 13th in the league in point differential at +2.3 per game, while the Wizards rank 15th at +.3.

Washington is shooting 44% from the field this season, 34% from 3-point range and 80% from the free-throw line. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are shooting 45% from the floor, 34% from long range and 76% from the line.

Also, the Wizards rank 12th in the league in rebounding at +1.1 boards per game, while Denver ranks 20th at -.8 per game.

On the injury front, Washington forward Caron Butler, who’s averaging 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game this season, has missed four of the last six games with a hip problem. Butler is listed as both doubtful and questionable for Friday’s game. Which doesn’t bode well for the Wiz, who, over the past three seasons, are just 7-24 when Butler is out of action.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks the Nuggets 12th at 91.9, the Wizards 16th at 89.2. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 3.0.

The o/u is 23-25 in Washington games this season, which are averaging 196 total points, while the totals are 25-23 in Denver games, which are averaging 211 points.

Zman’s Pick: Denver -11.