Malik Tz | Mon 31/10/2016 - 17:05 EDT

NBA Picks: Nuggets vs Raptors Odds, Prediction and Live Score

NBA Picks: Nuggets vs Raptors Odds, Prediction and Live Score
On a mission to claim the top spot in the east for the first time in franchise history, the Raptors must avoid dropping an easy ‘w’ against upstarts like the Denver Nuggets. The Nugs have a talented squad that will surprise NBA teams attempting to take a night off, forcing Toronto to respect Barton, Mudiay and the twin towers of Eastern Europe.
My Team's Next MatchToronto Raptors

The Raptors are firing on all cylinders to begin the 2016-17 season, handling Detroit with ease before nearly knocking LeBron and the Cavaliers off their perch. They face a Denver Nugget team which appears to be in the middle of a slow reloading process, starting with two losses to begin the regular season. The Nuggets youngsters will try to show that they’re making progress, while the Raps squad looks to oust Cleveland from top of the NBA east.

Denver Nuggets vs Toronto Raptors Pick

Bet Toronto at Sports Interaction Sportsbook 

Despite the absence of Jared Sullinger, who was supposed to spread the floor as a stretch four, the Raptors appear to be picking up where they left off, playing the same type of ball that earned a franchise record 56 wins and a trip to the eastern conference finals. First round rookies Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl appear NBA ready, contributing boards, dunks and defensive energy right out of the gate.

Siakam has been thrust into the role vacated by Bismack Biyombo, earning a spot as a member of the starting five after a solid summer and preseason showing. Few rookie big men exhibit the calm and smooth offensive flow of Poeltl, who was named the Pac-12 player of the year before jumping to the NBA. While Siakam projects to be a solid power forward in any rotation, the sky’s the limit for Poeltl, who could develop into a bonafide star.

The Nuggets don’t lack top end players, especially when considering the grossly underrated Will Barton, but find themselves having difficulty in terms of depth. Many of their younger players, in particular Emmanuel Mudiay, still have trouble consistently executing at a high level in the NBA. As such, the Nuggets occasionally put together a solid 48 minutes of ball. Just ask the Portland Trailblazers, who needed a clutch, last-second bucket from Damian Lillard to sneak away with the win.

Barton, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried tend to be their most consistent vets, while Jusuf Nurkic and Nikola Jokic present a tough matchup for most teams without a solid defensive big. Last year, the team struggled through injuries and inconsistency, landing in the bottom ranks of the NBA in terms of offensive and defensive net rating. Toronto, on the other hand, was among the top group in the league for both points scored and allowed.

The Raptors all-star back court of Lowry and DeRozan should be the difference, while Jonas Valanciunas will prove to be too much for Denver’s bigs. Expect the Raptors to win by at least two possessions, if they don’t decide to take the night off.

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The Denver Nuggets franchise had a brief, exciting run as a western conference contender, making a run to the NBA conference finals in 2009. Unfortunately, this was short lived, as the threat of free agency lead to Carmelo and Chauncey Billups being traded to the Knicks for Fallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and Timofey Mozgov. This pretty much ripped the heart out of the Nuggets franchise, and they’re still attempting to recover from decimating their lineup.

Masai Ujiri was the GM of the Nuggets when they managed to make their unexpected western conference playoff run. It’s no coincidence that he’s lead Toronto to the best years of basketball in franchise history. Through smart changes and judicious drafting, the Raps appear to aim for the NBA Finals this year without sacrificing their long-term viability.

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