'Nuggets of Unders'
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Apropos to nothing.
Both Damian Lillard's Portland Trail Blazers and the Nikola Jokic's Denver Nuggets combine slower-paced styles with highly efficient offenses. That set up is VERY similar to last year's first-round matchup between the Nuggets and Utah Jazz, when the pace got slower as the series went on, but amazing shooting still led to the OVER hitting in 5 of the 7 games. Game 7 famously went under by 60 points (!), something hat had not happened in over 10+ years of the both the regular season and playoffs.
Not only did almost every Live-Under bet hit as the pace got even slower as this game 7 went on, but also alternative totals paying upwards of 12 to 1 cashed for under bettors as well. So what does this all mean?
Funny you ask, because these Denver Nuggets have now played four Game 7s in the "Joker Era" and all of them have gone UNDER by at least 14 points, with the average O/U margin being -30 (!) in those games.
A couple of things happen in Game 7's here too - normally, you'll see very efficient offenses play as tightly as they have all year. When you combine slow pace with nerves, you also seem to get an even slower pace, as both teams try everything in their power to manufacture points in half court sets, not trusting themselves to play loose and run and gun. Just like Utah Jazz/Denver Nuggets last year in the bubble, Games 1 & 2 of this year's Portland Trail Blazers/Denver Nuggets series both flew over the total.
And if this series goes to 7, I will certainly be involved on the UNDER in a major way.
It may not fall 60 points under the total like last year, but regardless, it would shock me if sportsbooks adjusted as much as I believe would be appropriate in a potential double-elimination between these two.
You might be saying who cares – odds are it doesn’t go to Game 7 – and I would say fair point.
But whether we get all the way to game 7, I still do believe there will be select opportunities to take advantage of the way these Blazers/Nuggets teams play prior to even a potential Game 6 or beyond.
I might bet game this series' game unders even before then too, if (as I suspect) the market will drive this number to be higher in Games 4-6 if Game 3 indeed continues a trend of higher scoring. I will also likely be betting select 2H and 4Q unders in this series as well. These teams usually have very efficient offenses that score a lot, even though they play slowly. That means when for whatever reason their efficiency drops - for example, the opponent installs a new defensive wrinkle – then you can get the magical combination of incredibly slow play combined with a lot of missed shots. The two fourth quarters so far in this series have averaged combined scores of only 48.5, around seven points under the total for each game.
And as for props? Michael Porter Jr. may be a good place to start as well. We cashed our Porter Jr. Pts/Rebs UNDER 9.5 in Game 2 on our NBA Premium Best Bet Player Props card, and I'm willing to go back to the well. Porter Jr. has gone under this total in 15 of his last 16, and this trend actually started just a few games after Murray was done for the season. Right now, he is being priced just based on season average.