When and where: December 14, 2019, Pepsi Center, Denver, CO, 9:00 PM ET
A Western Conference tilt between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets takes center stage at the Pepsi Center on Saturday. After an ugly road trip, the Nuggets got back to their winning ways with a 114-99 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. It marked their second win in seven games. Meanwhile, the Thunder had their three-game winning streak snapped in a 94-93 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.
Thunder’s winning streak gets bustedThe month of December has been good to the Thunder.
They are 4-2 so far with marquee wins over the Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz. A disappointing one-point loss to the Kings on Wednesday put an end to their three-game winning streak.
They’d love to start another streak when heading on the road to take on the Nuggets.
The location will be their biggest issue. Despite the Nuggets’ recent slump, they are a tough team to beat at the Pepsi Center. They are 9-3 on the season when playing underneath their own roof.
That leaves the Thunder with the arduous task of taking the home cooking out of the equation. They have to avoid turnovers and get off to an early offensive start to try and take the crowd out of the game. Of course, that’s easier said than done against a Nuggets defense ranking second in the league in efficiency. But prolific players for the Thunder like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have to show up to put some of the pressure back on the Nuggets’ struggling offense.
The Nuggets will enter Saturday’s game with the 21st-ranked offense averaging 106.2 points per game. Oklahoma City is more than capable of making this a game. They’ve boasted the best scoring defense in the league over the last three games with opponents averaging 93.3 points in that span. Third-year guard Terrance Ferguson has already been ruled out of Saturday’s game with a hip injury.
Can the Nuggets build some momentum?The Nuggets avoided a fourth straight loss and ignited some confidence moving forward in Thursday’s home win over the Trail Blazers. It’s clear the team plays significantly better at home than they do on the road, and there is hope they can build some momentum before they embark back out on that long stretch of highway.
A win over the Thunder on Saturday would be a good start.
Unlike the Trail Blazers, the Thunder will actually present a challenge with the No. 13-ranked defense in the league. The Nuggets have generally run into trouble against teams that can put defensive pressure on them, while also scoring over 100 points. That has seemingly been the sweet spot for opposing teams recently. The Nuggets have been held under 100 points in four of their last five losses.
Coach Michael Malone would love to see the team come out fiery and build on the improved offensive showing they had against the Trail Blazers. If only they could mimic the success they’ve shown on the defensive end of the floor. They have the No. 1-ranked scoring defense with opponents averaging only 101.6 points per game.
Oklahoma City has been quietly dangerous on the offensive end of the court. So it would be a mistake for the Nuggets to automatically assume they’re going to roll in this game. The Thunder lack a team of offensive stars, but they are still figuring out ways to get it done as a collective group. Denver would be foolish to overlook them or take anything for granted in this meeting.
They can find solace in knowing Jamal Murray is no longer on the injury report. However, Paul Millsap is still listed as questionable with a right quad strain.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Thunder are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Saturday games.
- Thunder are 0-9 ATS in the last 9 head-to-head meetings.
- Thunder are 0-4 ATS in the last 4 head-to-head meetings in Denver.
- Nuggets are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games playing on 1 days rest.
- Nuggets are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games as a home favorite.
- Nuggets are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 home games against a team with a losing road record.
- Nuggets are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 home games.