The Thunder hold an overall record of 6-6, but they are 7-5 against the spread. Oklahoma City is coming off a comeback win over the Chicago Bulls.
The Nuggets stand at 6-7 overall, but they are only 4-9 against the spread. In the Nuggets’ most recent game, they fell to the Utah Jazz in a tight contest.
Here’s how sportsbooks have set the opening Thunder-Nuggets odds.
NBA Odds: Thunder-Nuggets Odds
Denver Nuggets -10 (-110)
Oklahoma City Thunder +10 (-110)
Over 219.5 Points (-107)
Under 219.5 Points (-113)
Why The Thunder Could Cover The Spread
For the second straight year, the Thunder have exceeded expectations to start the season.
Projected by most pundits to finish last or close to it in the Western Conference, OKC has kept pace with teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Nuggets, who are considered to be contenders this year.
This is mostly thanks to a Thunder defense that has been been solid but not spectacular.
Oklahoma City’s perimeter defense has held its own to start the season. With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort patrolling the three-point line, OKC has allowed the eighth least three-pointers in the league and the seventh lowest three-point percentage.
The Thunder don’t create many turnovers, but they have the personnel to make their opponents grind for their points. Against a Nuggets team that shoots the deep ball well, OKC will have to continue their impressive defensive effort.
On the other end, the Thunder will rely heavily on Gilgeous-Alexander to continue to carry the offensively limited roster.
SGA is averaging 21.6 points, 6.2 assists, and 5.8 rebounds per contest so far. At minimum, he’ll need to hit those numbers tonight for the Thunder to stick around.
Against a Nuggets defense that has been hurt from the three-point line, OKC will count on SGA to create open looks for his teammates and hope they knock enough of them down to stick around.
Why The Nuggets Could Cover The Spread
While the Nuggets’ record may raise a few eyebrows to start the season, they haven’t been as bad as it indicates.
Part of Denver’s problem so far has been their inability to finish close games. In games decided by four points or less, Denver is 0-3.
But for the most part, the Nuggets have taken care of business against teams contenders are supposed to beat.
Nikola Jokic and company have been 6.5 point favorites or higher five times this season. In those games, they are 4-1 straight up, with the sole loss being a miracle victory by the Kings on a wild buzzer beater. They are also 2-3 against the spread in those matchups.
Basically, Denver has lost a lot of close games to good teams (Utah, Brooklyn, Phoenix, Dallas) but handled weaker opponents.
Thankfully for Denver bettors, this game does not figure to be close.
Jokic, the Nuggets’ leading scorer and MVP candidate, should be primed for a big game against a team without an experienced center with Al Horford out.
Additionally, Denver’s biggest weakness, defense, should be canceled out by the Thunder’s offensive ineptitude. The Nuggets hold the fifth worst defensive rating in the league, but the Thunder are dead last in points scored and have the second lowest offensive rating in the NBA. Only the Cavaliers have been worse on the offensive end than the Thunder.
Expect the Nuggets to push the pace in Mile-High City and try to shoot the Thunder out of the contest early.
Final Thunder-Nuggets Prediction & Pick
The Thunder do not have the firepower to keep up with this Nuggets offense, especially in Denver, where the Nuggets are averaging just under 115 points a game. I’ll back Denver to overwhelm the Thunder offense and get the double-digit win to cover.
FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: DEN 117, OKC 103