The Denver Nuggets had high hopes coming into the 2020-21 NBA season, expecting to make the jump to the next level. To go from good to great, to rise up and challenge the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers for dominance in the Western Conference. Sportsbooks across the land had them at +1000 to do so.
Welp, they were there for a hot minute, until Jamal Murray went down on April 12 with a torn ACL. As a result, the Nuggets hopes were dashed and …
Well, actually, that narrative is false. Yes, losing Murray was a massive blow to this team, but since his injury, the Nuggets haven’t exactly fallen apart. In fact, the team is 13-5 since Murray went down, all the while playing without all that much to play for. They probably weren’t catching the surprising Utah Jazz or the even more surprising Phoenix Suns, and they almost certainly weren’t going to fall much further than the sixth seed in the West.
As it turns out, they jumped to the third seed from the fourth, and head into the playoffs … as a pick ‘em -110 to beat the Portland Trail Blazers on FOX Bet.
Are the Nuggets being undersold here? Perhaps.
A lot-o Campazzo
For starters, Murray’s replacement in the starting five is Facundo Campazzo, the Argentine import who does so much more than his stats reveal. Sure, he’s at 9 points, 3.5 boards, and 5.7 assists a game since Murray went down, but he’s also averaging nearly two steals per contest, which, over the full season, would place him easily in the top three in the league. He’s become, while not the secondary playmaker Murray was, at least the secondary engine of the offense.
The secondary playmaker is without question Michael Porter Jr. who has simply exploded in Murray’s absence, averaging 23.5 points per game to go along with 6.3 rebounds.
Rounding out the starting five are Aaron Gordon, who has shown flashes of offense while being a defensive stopper all over the court, and some combination of the injured Will Barton, Paul Millsap, Austin Rivers, P.J. Dozier, or the guy sitting in row 17 seat C. (Barton would be the starter, but it’s still unclear if he’ll be back from his hamstring injury.)
And, of course, the final starter for the Nuggets is Nikola Jokic, who is currently -5000 to win the NBA MVP award over at BetMGM.
Keeler: Nikola Jokic keeps chugging along, playing above the politics, focused solely on finishing what he started: The greatest individual season in Denver Nuggets history. https://t.co/vcyRwdsUBx
— The Denver Post (@denverpost) May 16, 2021
Remember back in December when you could’ve gotten Jokic at +2200 to win the MVP? Or even +1100? Jokic is one of the most dominant and versatile offensive weapons in the NBA. He can easily put up 40 points or dish out 15 assists, depending on what is needed out of him.
And a lot is going to be needed out of him if the Nuggets have any hopes of making a deep run in the NBA playoffs.
So you’re saying there’s a chance …
Some odds, then …
DraftKings is offering odds on how many games it will take the Nuggets to dispatch the Blazers in in the first round of the playoffs. A sweep is set at +1400, winning the series 4-1 is at +550, 4-2 at +500, and 4-3 at +400.
The Nuggets are also +1200 to continue on and win the conference, and +3000 to win the NBA championship.
Over at BetMGM, you can wager on the Nuggets winning the NBA championship against the whole of the Eastern Conference. Meaning, if you think the Nuggets will beat the Brooklyn Nets, the odds are +6600. To beat the Philadelphia 76ers, +12500. The Milwaukee Bucks, +15000. The Miami Heat, +40000. The Atlanta Hawks or New York Knicks, +100000. The Washington Wizards, +150000. The Charlotte Hornets, +400000.
And if you think the Nuggets will knock off the Indiana Pacers in the NBA finals, BetMGM will give you +500000 on it. A buck to win $5,000. Easy money, right? (By the way, a few +1000000 matchups are out there on BetMGM, and yes, you counted those zeroes correctly.)
Game 1 of the Nuggets-Trail Blazers series tips off either Thursday or Friday, as the NBA has not yet set the schedule. The last time the two teams met in the playoffs was two years ago, with the Blazers winning in seven games.