Steve Merril’s NBA Fullcourt Report (Monday, April 20)
Nuggets at Hornets (-2½, 193) –
Game 4 – 8:35 pm ET (NBA-tv)
The oddsmakers opened the Hornets as a 3-point favorite, but the early money quickly moved the line down to 2 ½ by Sunday afternoon. This is a full two points less than the line in Game 3 which saw New Orleans as a 4½-point favorite.New Orleans only won by two points and has now failed to cover the pointspread in all three playoff games.
The oddsmakers opened the total at 193½ and it was quickly bet down to 193, but has since risen back up to 193½ in some locations. This is the lowest posted total in all eight head-to-head meetings this season. The four regular season games saw Over/Under lines of 196½ in two games and 199 in the other two games with a 2-2 Over/Under mark. Game 1 of the playoffs had a total of 194½ and then a much higher total of 200 in Game 2. Game 3 saw the line open at 198 with a large influx of sharp money pushing it all the way down to 196 by tip-off on Saturday afternoon.
Despite being a #2 versus #7 matchup, the Nuggets (54-28 SU) only finished five games ahead of New Orleans (49-33 SU) during the 82-game regular season. The teams split the four head-to-head meetings with Denver losing 105-101 at home on November 28th as a 1-point underdog and then winning the rematch at home on January 3rd as a 4-point favorite, 105-100. New Orleans then got revenge with a 94-81 home win on January 28th as a 4-point favorite, while Denver finished the regular season meetings with a 101-88 road win on March 25th as a 4-point underdog.
The Nuggets dominated Game 1 last Sunday with an easy 113-84 home win as a 6-point favorite.
Denver led by 34 points in the game and Chauncey Billups was fantastic with 36 points and shooting 8-for-9 from three-point range. The Hornets were led by Chris Paul who had 21 points with 11 assists.
Denver continued their dominance in Game 2 with another easy home win, 108-93, as a 6-point favorite. Denver led by 23 points and they were paced once again by Chauncey Billups who had 31 points and was a perfect 11-for-11 from the free throw line. New Orleans was led by David West who had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Chris Paul had only 14 points, but he did contribute a series-high 13 assists.
New Orleans faced a must-win situation in Game 3 at home on Saturday, but they came out extremely flat and trailed 22-6 late in the first quarter, before rallying to take a 50-47 halftime lead. New Orleans held a 90-79 lead with just 3:13 remaining in the game, but poor clock management by the Hornets and clutch shooting by Denver allowed the Nuggets to go on a 14-4 run in the final three minutes and cut the lead to 94-93 with 0:25 remaining before an eventual 95-93 loss, but pointspread cover as a 4½-point underdog.
Denver was led by Carmelo Anthony who had 25 points. Anthony did suffer an elbow contusion in the fourth quarter on Saturday, but he is listed as probable and is expected to play tonight. The Hornets were lead by point guard Chris Paul who had a game-high 32 points with 12 assists.