NBA 2022/23, on Tuesday, 07.03.2023
With a wingspan of a stately 2.21 metres, Nikola Jokic is, for me, one of the main reasons why the home side will hold off the Canadians tonight according to my Nuggets Raptors prediction.
Admittedly, the Western Conference is not quite as strong as the Eastern, in which the upcoming opponent is also competing. Nevertheless, this fact will not stop the best home team in the NBA from celebrating their 46th win of the season at Ball Arena!
The Nuggets will be able to cope with the absence of players like Cancar, Gillespie or Nnaji – as long as Nikola Jokic is well, they can’t be denied success. I expect another easy win under the Serb’s leadership tonight.
Because apart from the fact that Denver have won seven of their last eight NBA games, their opponents are tailor-made to also victimise the Western Conference leaders – who have already gone up and down with an eye on the chasers.
The Raptors are still in the running for a play-off spot somewhere themselves – albeit probably only via the play-in-tournament circuit – but have far too little offensive potential to stay in the game at Ball Arena for more than a half at most.
The Canadians own an absolutely average team that defends a tad better than it attacks. Still, little should be gained against the NBA’s second-best offense with an off-rating of 117.4.
The Nuggets also have fresh talent! Aaron Gordon, Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic were largely spared in the first two games after the All-Star Break, but have come back strongly in recent days!
The Serbian in particular has been collecting a ridiculously high number of rebounds since the one-week break – 15.4 per game. Moreover, with the exception of the penultimate game against the Grizzlies, he has also been providing double-digit assists ever since!
In short, Nikola Jokic should be able to collect enough offensive rebounds in direct duels on the board against Poeltl, Siakam and Anunoby and set his teammates in scene with great passes as usual.
Now, in the first direct duel of the season, I don’t expect a brutal measure of the Canadians, but a point difference of 5 to 8 points in favour of the Nuggets should definitely be able to light up on the tableau after the final siren sounds.
Especially since it has been proven that you simply cannot beat the home side in the Ball Arena. In this respect, Denver’s record from their last 25 home games leaves no two opinions: 24 wins, 1 loss.
I would like to reiterate at this point that the Canadians are certainly no fall fruit, but are not quite as well stocked compared to pre-season.
Still, with the trade of Austrian Jakob Pöltl on February 9, they were able to acquire a sturdy centre who has played better in his nine games for the Raptors so far than perhaps ever before in his career.
Pöltl will most likely have the thankless task of having to deal with Nikola Jokic. But even if the Austrian can stand up to the Serb physically, I doubt that he will be able to hold out against him for long.
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Further, the Nuggets Raptors odds are currently also available, but they do not reveal any surprises.
Accordingly, the home side’s chances of winning have been rated as extremely high with odds averaging 1.34, as expected.
Those who back the Canadians, on the other hand, can look forward to a whopping 3.4 times their stake, even though I personally won’t be one of those brave sports betting fans tonight.
Conclusion: The Canadiens have pulled off a deal or two just in time for the trade deadline, which could give them a taste of playoff air again this year.
However, the Nuggets are probably too big for the Raptors! In my Nuggets Raptors tip I talked a lot about Nikola Jokic, but Denver also has other proven players to score points.
Because even if Toronto somehow gets Jokic covered, the Western Conference leaders have top-notch player material in Porter and Murray, who really flattened the Grizzlies the day before yesterday!
My Nuggets Raptors tip: Denver wins at HC -6.5..