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Nuggets May Be Missing Jokic vs. Celtics

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Updated: .March 11, 2017

By Charles Jay

The Boston Celtics are on a high right now, as far as confidence is concerned, as they probably had their most encouraging victory of the season the other night. On Friday, they will pay a visit to the high-altitude as they take on the Denver Nuggets in a game that will begin at 9:05 PM ET at the Pepsi Center. America’s Bookie customers will have the opportunity to challenge the NBA betting odds either before the game, or while it is happening, as they access either of two “Live Betting” options in their sportsbook interface.

Boston came off a pair of disappointing losses to the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers, but were very impressive in Oakland two nights ago, as they beat to Golden State Warriors 99-86. They had seemingly taken the night off at the Staples Center defensively, yielding 53% shooting on the part of Chris Paul amns his teammates, but they were like a fortress around the basket against the Warriors, allowing one of the best shooting teams in the league to hit only four three-pointers in 17 attempts. The 86 points was also a season low for Golden State, and now Boston had chalked up victories over both the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers within a week’s time.

There also breathing down Cleveland’s neck, with a 41-24 straight-up record which is just two games behind in the Eastern Conference. Denver, which is just coming off a 123-113 loss to the Washington Wizards, in which it allowed 57% from the field, has a record of 29-35, which is still good for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, but there is almost no room to breathe, as they are just a half-game ahead of Portland and a game and a half up on the Dallas Mavericks. There is trouble brewing for the Nuggets, as they might be missing Nikola Jokic, their big man and leading scorer, for the third straight game with the flu. He will be a game-time decision.

In the NBA betting odds that have been posted on this game, Boston is the road favorite:

Boston Celtics -3.5 (-115)
Denver Nuggets +3.5 (-105)

Over 221.5 points -110
Under 221.5 points -110

Danilo Gallinari, who averages 15.9 points per game, has also had to sit out with vertigo, but he is going to most likely be in the lineup on Friday night. Jokic, who is third in the NBA in Offensive Rating (Gallinari is fifth) was at the Friday shootaround, and it appears that every effort will be made to get him ready to play. Mike Malone, the head coach, has stressed that guys will have to play through pain, as the Nuggets are battling for position in the post-season, which would definitely represent progress. But that won’t help Kenneth Faried, who will miss his seventh straight game with a back injury.

Boston is looking for some payback, as Denver came to their backyard and beat them 123-107 back on November 6. This was admittedly before the Celtics really got rolling, but it was very embarrassing to go down 77-52 at the half, as they did. The Nuggets held a 57-43 rebounding advantage, and despite the presence of Al Horford, who recently returned after missing two games with a bad elbow, Boston is still not an imposing team on the boards. But what they have been doing is slowing games down to their preferred pace. So even though Denver has, on balance, been a pretty hideous defensive team (indeed, ranked last in the league in Defensive Rating), we still lean toward going with a current trend that has them playing eight unders in their last nine games, with the other one being a push. So yes, it’s UNDER the total, as the Charles Jay/America’s Bookie Challenge continues on Friday night.

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