Even after the Toronto Raptors and Denver Nuggets each got off to a hot start this season, you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone who actually thought both teams would still lead their conference by the middle of December. Yet here we are on Dec. 16, and the Raptors-Nuggets matchup in Denver is a battle of first-place teams.
The Raptors enter on a bit of a downturn, having lost three of their last five games. The two wins in that stretch though, were when they swept a road back-to-back against the Clippers and Warriors. At 23-8, they hold a two and a half game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks.
As for the Nuggets, they’ve won two games in a row, and eight of their last 10 games to recapture the form they showed at the beginning of the season. Their lead above the West is much more precarious than the Raptors’ though. At 19-9, they’re just percentage points ahead of the Golden State Warriors.
How to watch Raptors at Nuggets
- Date: Sunday, Dec. 16
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- Location: Pepsi Center — Denver
- Streaming: fuboTV (free trial – NBA TV add-on available)
- Live stats: GameTracker
- Odds: Raptors -3.5
Odds and analysis
Check Sportsline’s NBA pick sheet for all your daily odds.
Raptors: It’s been a bit of a strange few weeks for the Raptors, who at times have looked tremendous — they swept a road back-to-back against the Clippers and Warriors without Kawhi Leonard — but overall haven’t been quite as sharp as they were earlier in the season. Coming off a loss to the Trail Blazers on Friday night, they’ll finish this very difficult Western Conference road trip in Denver against the Nuggets. Leonard is back, but the Nuggets have been tough to beat at home, and this is the end of a long road trip. It will be interesting to see how the Raptors play in this one.
Nuggets: The Nuggets stumbled a bit in the middle of November, but they’ve turned it back up again recently to prove that their hot start was no fluke. They’ve won eight of their last 10 games, and enter this contest having won two in a row against strong competition in the Grizzlies and Thunder. And did so without Paul Millsap, who is out four to six weeks with a fractured toe. Already without Will Barton as well, this will be a tough challenge for Denver. The good news for them is they’ve been strong at home, going 11-3 at the Pepsi Center this season.
Game prediction, pick
This is a tricky one. The Raptors are favored by a few points, but are at the end of a long road trip and playing in Denver. The Nuggets, meanwhile, have been phenomenal at home, but are shorthanded. We’ll take the Nuggets to cover the 3.5 points, but do so hesitantly.