DENVER NUGGETS (1-4)
at UTAH JAZZ (0-7)
Tip-off: Monday, 9:05 p.m. ET
Line: Denver -2.5, Total: 196.5
Two struggling teams, the Nuggets and Jazz, who have combined for a 1-11 record, will try to jump-start their seasons on Monday night.
Denver has really struggled early on in the 2013-14 season after finishing 57-25 (.695) last season, good for third in the Western Conference. Denver has lost by an average of nine points per game in its four defeats, with the only victory being a 2-point win over the Hawks. Utah looks to be on the fast track for first pick in next seasonís draft, going winless over its first seven games of the year. The Jazz have played five of their first seven games on the road, and were outscored by 18.5 PPG during a just-completed, four-game road trip. Over the past three seasons the Nuggets have gone 5-2 ATS (4-3 SU) against the Jazz with the Over going 4-3 in those games. Denver won 3-of-4 games SU last season, prevailing by an average of 18.7 PPG in the victories. When these two franchises have met in Utah since 1996, the Jazz have gone 30-6 SU, but just 18-16 ATS. The Nuggets frontcourt will be thin for this game, as C JaVale McGee (tibia) and SF Danilo Gallinari (knee) are out and SF Wilson Chandler is considered questionable with a hamstring injury. Utah has three players on the shelf, C Andris Biedrins (ankle), SF Jeremy Evans (shoulder) and rookie PG Trey Burke (finger).
Which team will get back in the win column on Monday night? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Gary is 64.3% ATS overall since Tuesday, while StatFox Zach is 2-1 ATS on Best Bets since Wednesday.
The Nuggets have struggled this season on offense with 98.4 PPG (17th in league) on 42.9% FG (24th in NBA) after leading the entire league last season with 106.1 PPG on 47.8% FG (5th in NBA). With the absence of SF Danilo Gallinari and the loss of SF Andre Iguodala in the offseason, they have had a tough time finding a scoring option outside of PG Ty Lawson. Denver has not been known for having great defenses in recent years, and has continued to give up a gaudy number of points to opposing offenses this season (105.2 PPG, 5th-most in league). Lawson (22.6 PPG, 6.8 APG, 4.2 RPG) has continued to improve in each season that he has been in the league. As the number one option in the offense, Lawson has scored at least 20 points while attempting 15+ field goals in each of the Nuggets five contests this season. In his 14 career games (10 starts) against the Jazz, Lawson has managed 13.9 PPG and 5.0 APG and did not do too much better in his three starts last season (13.0 PPG, 6.7 APG). SF Jordan Hamilton (12.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG) has started the past three games in place of the injured Gallinari, and seemingly found his stroke against Phoenix on Friday (19 points on 8-of-12 FG, 9 rebounds). The only other player on the roster with 10+ PPG so far has been SG Randy Foye (10.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.6 APG), who has averaged 12.3 PPG against the Jazz in 16 career games (10 starts). No player besides Lawson has averaged more than 30 MPG, as the team looks for a spark from somewhere in the lineup.
Utah has looked like a team with no identity this season, and its young roster has led to an offense averaging an NBA-worst 87.7 PPG on a league-low 40.1% FG. The Jazz have not broken the 100-point mark yet this season and have not scored 95 points since the season opener. Their defense has been subpar as well, giving up an average of 100.7 PPG (20th in NBA) to its opponents. SG Gordon Hayward (19.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 4.7 APG) has emerged from the wreckage that is the Jazz. He has scored 12+ points in each game this season and has averaged 35.7 MPG on the floor. In 11 career games (7 starts) against the Nuggets, Hayward has produced 13.1 PPG on 53% FG (48% threes). Both C Enes Kanter (16.4 PPG, 7.7 RPG) and PF Derrick Favors (12.0 PPG, 9.6 RPG) are expected to lead this team in the future as the Jazz let go of PF Paul Millsap and C Al Jefferson in the offseason. Another player that has really emerged in the Jazz lineup has been SG Alec Burks, who has averaged 14.6 PPG coming off the bench this season. The team is still waiting on the debut of first-round pick, PG Trey Burke, who has been out with a fractured finger.