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NBA betting: Why we like Nikola Jokic, Nuggets to cover on the road Monday

·Betting analyst
·4 min read
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Men's college basketball is down its final three games, but the NBA has plenty of action lined up to carry us through the spring.

With two full weeks of the regular season remaining, each night will bring more clarity to the playoff picture. Most teams are motivated to make their final push, which has me confident that we will see the best version of each conference's contenders down the stretch.

Tonight's nine-game slate gets started at 7 p.m. ET and wraps up with a snoozer between Oklahoma City and Portland at 10 p.m. ET. Let's avoid that game completely and get our money down on the early action. Here is my best side, total and prop for tonight's NBA action.

Denver Nuggets (-2.5) at Charlotte Hornets

Both teams enter the game with plenty of motivation. Denver, currently sixth in the Western Conference, is only two games out from hosting a first-round series. On the flip side, they are only 1.5 games up on Minnesota and in danger of sliding back into the play-in tournament. Charlotte's latest 7-1 run now has them tied with Brooklyn for the eighth seed in the East.

Despite the Hornets' recent success, they haven't exceeded market expectations at home. In their last 10 games, they are a pedestrian 5-5 ATS while Denver has been a dominant 8-2 to the number on the road. Charlotte's offense has fueled its run with the fourth-best offensive rating, and all signs point to tonight's game coming down to which team executes best on that end of the floor. That's where I think Denver has the advantage.

Denver's Nikola Jokic walks off the court after an NBA game against the Phoenix Suns on March 24. (AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Denver's Nikola Jokic walks off the court after an NBA game against the Phoenix Suns on March 24. (AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

They are catching Charlotte traveling home on a back-to-back, coming off a huge win at Brooklyn last night. Denver and Nikola Jokic are a tough matchup for a Charlotte defense that has been exploited in the frontcourt all season. Only Portland and Houston allow more points to centers, and Nikola Jokic won't mind piling on the stats in his quest for a second consecutive MVP. Denver's offense will get it done while Charlotte faces an inevitable letdown.

Golden State Warriors at Memphis Grizzlies (under 221.5)

There are only two teams that cashed more unders for bettors this season than the Golden State Warriors. Steve Kerr is still trying to figure out life without Steph Curry while Draymond Green is slowly getting back to form. The Warriors have averaged 108 points per game over the last five games, and that's against some of the league's worst defenses. Tonight, they face a stiff step up in competition when they travel to Memphis.

The Grizzlies have held opponents to 109 points per 100 possessions in March, tied with Boston for second-best in the NBA. In the last four games without Morant, that number dips down to under 104. They are 4-0 in those games with an average margin of victory of 22 points, including wins over the Nets and Bucks. I expect a big defensive effort from both teams, but especially Memphis considering they can create five games of separation in the standings with a win. Tyus Jones and the Grizzlies guards have been pushing the pace without Morant, but I am betting it slows down as the Warriors are desperate to stop their slide.

Trae Young Over 29.5 Points (-115)

Atlanta is fighting for their playoff lives as it currently sits as the 10th seed in the final spot to qualify for the play-in tournament. It's no secret at this point that they need Young to score to stay competitive. The Hawks' 26th-ranked defense is the main reason they fell so far from last season's playoff run. Young is coming off a 33-point performance against Golden State just three days after lighting up the Knicks for 45. Indiana is 23rd in points allowed to point guards and has thrown in the towel on the defensive end this month, letting up the 28th-most points per possession. Young should get little resistance as he trades buckets trying to carry Atlanta to a win in this one. Young cooked the Indiana defense for 47 points just two weeks ago, so I didn't waste any time in betting that he reaches 30 tonight.

Stats provided by nba.com, evanalytics, and teamrankings.com