The Nuggets and Raptors renew acquaintances after a tense battle in Denver earlier this month. That meeting saw center Jakob Poeltl put in an efficient shift vs. Nikola Jokic, and our NBA picks expect the same in Toronto.
The Toronto Raptors need a win. They have lost three games in a row and sit in a precarious ninth place in the Eastern Conference, just one game away from being on the outside of the play-in tournament.
Busting out of that slump won’t be easy, as the Raps welcome MVP favorite Nikola Jokic and the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets to town on Tuesday night.
This will be the second meeting between these two teams in just over a week, and the Raptors arguably outplayed the Nuggets in that game, before a few untimely mistakes and a Scott Foster performance cost them a win.
I break down this matchup and bring you my best bet in NBA picks and predictions for the Nuggets vs. Raptors.
Nuggets vs Raptors best odds
Nuggets vs Raptors picks and predictions
This is an interesting game for a few reasons: The last matchup between these two, just over a week ago, was close and ended with Scott Foster ejecting Scottie Barnes for disagreeing with a call. And, neither team’s playing their best basketball at the moment.
With all those things on the table, I’m going back to my favorite Raptors betting well of late. That is Jakob Poeltl to go Over his points total.
Poeltl does a lot for the Raps. They finally have a rim protector, and in 11 games with him manning the paint, Toronto ranks 10th in defensive rating. Offensively, he’s great in the pick-and-roll with Pascal Siakam or Fred VanVleet. He’s also a solid passer with good vision and spaces the floor for his teammates.
It also hasn’t hurt that he’s given the Raptors something else they didn’t have: reliable scoring down low.
Now, sportsbooks have picked up on Poeltl’s scoring prowess a bit. His point total is up to 13.5 after sitting at 12.5 for the majority of his time as a Raptor. That may not be enough. Poeltl is averaging 15.7 points per game on 68.5% shooting in his 11 games as a starter, and has gone Over the 13.5 number seven times in his last 10 games.
That includes going for 18 on 9-for-13 shooting from the floor in that March 6 meeting against the Nuggets in Denver. There’s no reason to think he can’t put on a similar performance tonight.
While Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets have arguably the NBA’s best offense, their defense is average at best, as the team ranks 16th in efficiency. Jokic obviously is very important to what the Nuggets do on defense, but they do become vulnerable to opposing big at times. Denver ranks 24th in the NBA in opponent points in the paint and 17th in points allowed to opposing centers.
Then there is also the fact that Jokic is on the court a lot during Nuggets games, playing nearly 34 minutes per game. This, to me, means the Raptors will need Poeltl on the court as much as possible in this matchup.
“Jake Puddle” continues to be a key piece of this Raptors offense, and even though sportsbooks have adjusted a little, it’s not enough. The even money makes this bet more than worthwhile.
My best bet: Jakob Poeltl Over 13.5 points (+100 at PointsBet)
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Nuggets vs Raptors spread analysis
The spread for this matchup is interesting. When these two teams met back on March 6, the Nuggets closed as a 6-point home favorite but with the matchup taking place in Toronto this time around, it’s the Raptors who are laying the points. They opened as 1.5-point home chalk but have been bet down slightly to Raptors -1.
That’s because of a combination of things. One, the Raps play much better at home this season, and two, they played well against the Nuggets in that last meeting. Toronto held a 88-83 lead heading into the fourth quarter in that matchup.
Despite some questionable calls, the Raptors’ old problems also sprung up in that game. When teams clamp down in the fourth quarter and force the Raptors into their half-court offense, that’s when things go wrong. They are tied for dead last in the NBA when it comes to effective field goal percentage.
That is not a problem for the Nuggets. Jokic is the betting favorite to win a third consecutive MVP award thanks to Denver sitting in first in the West, and him averaging 24.7 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. He leads a Nuggets team that ranks second in offensive rating, first in effective field goal percentage, and second in 3-point shooting percentage.
That last part is another problem for the Raps. While they don’t give up a lot of threes, when they do, they tend to be open looks. As a result, they rank next-to-last in the NBA in opponent 3-point shooting percentage. In that last matchup, they allowed the Nuggets to go 13-for-33 (39%).
Mix in the Raptors’ bench issues and I’m not sure they can keep up with the Nuggets over the course of an entire game. Despite their own recent struggles, Denver is better equipped to bounce back in this matchup. I’d lean towards the Nuggets on the moneyline tonight.
Nuggets vs Raptors Over/Under analysis
While the Raptors might not be able to keep up, they’ll do their best here, to the point where I think it’s a little interesting to see that the total has dropped a point and a half from 228.5 to 227 as of Tuesday afternoon.
During Toronto’s three-game losing streak the team ranks 23rd in defensive rating and is giving up 116 points per game. The Nuggets have been worse. Denver is surrendering 122.3 points per game and dead last in defensive rating over a three-game losing streak of its own.
The last meeting between these two went over this number by 4.5 points. I’d lean Over the number once again.
Nuggets vs Raptors betting trend to know
The Over is 4-0 in the Nuggets’ last four vs. a team with a losing straight-up record and 6-1 in the Raptors’ last seven vs. a team with a winning straight-up record. Find more NBA betting trends for Nuggets vs. Raptors.
Nuggets vs Raptors game info
|Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
|Tuesday, March 14, 2023
|7:30 p.m. ET