- The Nuggets made a statement in their home win over the Celtics, but they now face a Grizzlies team that is exceptional defensively.
Here are our three top plays for Wednesday night’s NBA action:
1. Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic (+3.0)
7:00 pm ET
Since the start of 2016-17, the Pistons are a lousy 6-19 against the spread in road games when the line is +3 to -3. Detroit doesn’t always come prepared for a fight when playing away from Little Caesars Arena, and a fight is exactly what the Pistons will get tonight. The Magic are hoping to scratch their way back to .500. Orlando is currently two games under, but the team has won two straight and will be feeling confident after a come-from-behind victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. Another reason Magic players will be confident is that they are 5-1 straight up and 6-0 against the spread in their last six meetings with the Pistons. Four of those win-and-covers were at the Amway Center (perhaps Detroit needs to scale back on the fun at Disney World). Keep an eye on the disparity at the charity stripe. On the season, only the Thunder have put their opponents on the free-throw line more often than the Pistons per 100 possessions. Considering the Magic are last in the league in offensive free-throw rate, you can expect them to see a slight uptick in production there. An extra four or five points at the line could make a huge difference in this one.
Pick: Magic (+3.0)
2. Denver Nuggets at Memphis Grizzlies (+3.5)
8:00 pm ET
There's no denying that Denver’s 9-1 start to the season has been remarkable. The Nuggets come into this game with the league’s ninth-most efficient offense and second-best defensive efficiency rating. Everything is clicking, as Nikola Jokic is playing like an MVP and the young backcourt of Gary Harris and Jamal Murray is coming into its own. Murray is now a proud owner of real estate in Kyrie Irving’s head after dropping 48 points in Denver’s 115-107 win over Boston on Monday. The Nuggets trailed by as many as 18 in that game but battled back to emerge with an emotional victory. But that game could be what ends up doing Denver in tonight. Since the start of last season, the Nuggets are 4-13 against the spread in road games when coming off a home win. Denver is also just 3-11 straight up and 5-9 against the spread when playing in Memphis since the start of the 2012-13 season. After straying from its Grit ‘N’ Grind style in recent seasons, Memphis is now back in full form. The Grizzlies are currently fourth in the league in defensive efficiency rating and 29th in pace of play. That style should also lead to a cover against Denver. The Nuggets guards like to get out and run, and the Grizzlies will make that hard. Mike Conley, in particular, should be able to show up in a big way for Memphis here, and Marc Gasol matches up well against Jokic.
Pick: Grizzlies (+3.5)
3. Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers (Total: 216.5)
8:00 pm ET
The Sixers and Pacers met three times last season, and the final two of those games went under the total. The average amount of points scored in those two contests was 195.5 points per game. While there has been a league-wide uptick in threes attempted per game, neither of these teams has been particularly strong offensively of late. Over the past five games, the Sixers are averaging 110.6 points per game and the Pacers are averaging only 100.6. On top of that, both teams pride themselves on their defense. The Pacers are sixth in the league in defensive efficiency rating, and the 12th-ranked Sixers are bound to improve. The best offensive players in this game will mostly have plus defenders matched up against them. Joel Embiid will have his work cut out for him against Myles Turner, and Ben Simmons should spend part of the night trying to stop Victor Oladipo. With two hard-nosed teams playing with playoff-like intensity, this game is more likely to be played in the high 90s or low 100s.
Pick: Under (216.5)
Overall Record: 27-19-2