NBA Odds & Picks for Nuggets vs. Warriors: Back Denver to Keep Thriving Without Jamal Murray (Friday, April 23)

Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Michael Porter Jr.

Nuggets vs. Warriors Odds

Nuggets Odds -3
Warriors Odds +3
Moneyline -150 / +125
Over/Under 228.5
Time Friday, 10 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Thursday and via BetMGM

So far, it’s been no problem for the Denver Nuggets without point guard Jamal Murray. They’ll face a difficult test on Friday night against Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors to see just how real this Murray-less team is.

Will it be a tough test, though? The Warriors, aside from Curry’s magnificence, haven’t been very good this month and haven’t even been able to use his amazing April to improve their playoff standing.

Let’s break this one down:

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Denver Nuggets

It’s tough to judge the Nuggets going off their season-long statistics because of Murray’s injury against the Warriors back on April 12. Denver has played four games since then, but Murray also missed four games before that game against Golden State. We’ll rely on stats over the Nuggets’ last nine games to try to figure out what to expect.

Denver’s offense is still very good without Murray, ranking third with a 117.3 Offensive Rating over its last nine games, according to NBA Advanced Stats. The Nuggets’ Defensive Rating is 13th and Net Rating sixth.

Looking at just the last four Nuggets games, it’s clear that Michael Porter Jr. is going to take on a lot of offensive responsibility without Murray. He’s scoring 21 points per game on 13 attempts in those contests, shooting a ridiculous 61.5% from the field and 52% from 3-point range.

I could go over Nikola Jokic’s numbers this season with and without Murray, but you probably already know he is almost averaging a triple-double and presents a big matchup problem for the Warriors. Draymond Green might have to step up to guard Jokic, especially with Juan Toscano-Anderson’s status unknown due to a concussion and James Wiseman out.

The biggest increase in playing time has gone to PJ Dozier, whose average +/- over Denver’s last four games is 13.3, second to only Porter. Monte Morris is also out for the Nuggets, which means Dozier and Facundo Campazzo will likely play most of the point-guard minutes for the Nuggets.

Three of Denver’s last four games have gone over the total, although one of those was a fantastic double-overtime win over the Grizzlies. That game went over the total through four quarters, though.

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Golden State Warriors

Jokic is still likely to win the MVP, but Stephen Curry is doing his damnedest in April to make it a competitive race.

Curry, already a two-time MVP, is averaging 38.7 points per game in 11 April contests, while shooting 52.3% from the field and 47.1% from 3-point range on 14.3 attempts.

Unfortunately for Golden State, that has only translated to a 6-5 record. A fantastic win over Philadelphia on Monday was erased by a four-point loss to the lowly Wizards on Wednesday. That was the finale of a five-game road trip, on which the Warriors still went 3-2.

Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. have been fine this season for Golden State, but neither is near the level that is required for the team to thrive. Wiggins is averaging 17.6 points per game in April but is shooting just 31.3% from beyond the arc, and while Oubre is at 41.2% from beyond the arc on 4.9 attempts per game, his average +/-, according to NBA Advanced Stats, is minus-6.3.

This is a particularly bad matchup for the Warriors because the Nuggets have the size to combat both Wiggins and Oubre on the perimeter. Denver will try to contain Curry but even if he goes off, that hasn’t translated to wins necessarily this season.

How reliant on Curry are the Warriors? Their Offensive Rating this month is 21st in the NBA at 111.0. Imagine how pathetic they’d be without him.

Nuggets-Warriors Pick

Three points simply isn’t enough for Denver to be laying in this spot. While Golden State is 16-11 at home against the spread this season, the Nuggets are 15-13 on the road and a much more complete team.

I’d play this all the way up to -6.5 with the expectation that Denver slows the pace down and contains everyone except Curry, maybe even slowing down the greatest shooter of all time.

Pick: Nuggets -3

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