Game: Denver Nuggets @ Miami Heat
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Odds: Nuggets +1.5, Heat -1.5
Since the end of last season, the Denver Nuggets have been concentrating on developing a roster that will allow them to move forward and capture the first NBA championship in team history. Denver’s roster is almost set for the stretch run of the regular season following a week of trades and additions. Bones Hyland is gone and acquisitions Reggie Jackson and Thomas Bryant have been added to an already potent lineup.
Denver will get its first taste of its new players tonight when the Nuggets finish a three-game road trip in Miami. Denver got Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. back from injuries last season and they had acquired Bruce Brown and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope before the start of the season. Jackson was bought out by Charlotte after being traded to the Hornets by the Los Angeles Clippers, and Bryant was acquired in a trade deadline deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
While Jackson will serve as the backup point guard against Miami, Bryant could get more action after playing two minutes in the Nuggets’ 119-105 victory over Charlotte on Saturday night. The two newest Nuggets might have an immediate impact because Murray (right knee inflammation) is probably sidelined until after the All-Star break and Aaron Gordon (rib contusion) is questionable.
Despite not having Murray for the past four games, Denver is still in first place in the Western Conference thanks to Nikola Jokic, who has been available and dominant. Denver is unbeaten this season when the two-time league MVP has a triple-double. He recorded his NBA-high 20th on Saturday in the win over Charlotte. That win came two nights after a surprising loss to Orlando.
Miami has been playing a number of close games this season. The Heat defeated that same Magic team 107-103 in overtime on Saturday night. In games decided by five points or fewer this season, the Heat are 19-11. Nine of their previous ten games have been decided by that margin. One of those 30 games, a 124-119 Nuggets victory, took place in Denver on December 30.
The Heat only made one tiny move during the trading deadline, sending Dewayne Dedmon to San Antonio in exchange for money. Before Jackson joined the Nuggets, Miami was actually a potential destination for him. It has been reported that Russell Westbrook, who was traded to Utah and may have his contract bought out, could find a home with the Heat.
With Kyle Lowry suffering with a knee issue that will keep him out at least until the All-Star break and Victor Oladipo having only played in 26 games this year, Miami could use another veteran in the backcourt. The Heat led Atlanta by just three games while leading the Southeast Division.
Miami is 7-3 SU in its last ten games but has lost eight of the last ten in the series with Denver. The Heat has won eight in a row at home, but the Nuggets are 5-0 SU and ATS against Miami in the last five meetings.
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