Over the last few weeks, injuries to star players have started to pile up in the NBA, and last night we got another one. In the waning seconds of the fourth quarter, Jamal Murray planted his leg, and as he pushed off his knee buckled under his weight and he went to the ground writhing in pain. Reports this morning confirmed the worst: Murray tore his ACL and his season is over.
The blow is obviously massive for the Nuggets, a team that had been peaking at the right time. Murray is a vital piece to this team’s championship potential, and without him their chances to win a title are severely hampered. SuperBook Sports adjusted Denver’s title odds down to 100-1 today after they were 14-1 just yesterday. That might seem extreme, but the numbers bear out a bleak picture for the Nuggets.
When Murray is off the floor, Denver is outscored by 0.5 points every 100 possessions. Yes, they have the odds-on favorite to win MVP in Nikola Jokic, but his presence does not do much. In fact, with him on the floor and Murray off the Nuggets’ net rating worsens to -2.4 per 100 possessions! The true form of Denver without Murray is likely somewhere in the middle of those two figures, but there is no doubt in my mind they need Murray to win a title.
Updated injury reports can be found here.
Updated odds for every game can be found here.
*Indicates team is on second leg of a back-to-back
The Main Event
Miami Heat at Phoenix Suns* (-3.5, 215)
The Eastern Conference better be on high alert, because the reigning champs are starting to figure things out. Miami comes into this game with Phoenix tonight on a 6-1 SU/5-2 ATS run, during which they have outscored their opponents by 5.7 points every 100 possessions. Their defensive rating of 106.3 is the sixth-best rating in the league over that stretch and this team has shown no signs of letting up anytime soon. On Sunday, they limited the Trail Blazers’ fifth-ranked offense to just 1.043 points per possession, and tonight they get another crack at a top-10 offense.
Phoenix comes into Tuesday night ranked seventh in offensive efficiency (116.8) and that unit has been operating at a very high level lately. Over the last eight games, the Suns have been scoring 122.3 points every 100 possessions! To be fair, only two of their eight opponents rank higher than 18th in defensive efficiency and the two legitimate defenses they faced they managed just 1.10 points per possession. Are they going to be able to operate at a high level against Miami? The Heat give up the third-fewest mid-range attempts of any team in the league and rank 13th in opponent mid-range shooting (41.8%). Phoenix generates a majority of its offense from that area of the floor, so they will have to crack another great defense to have success tonight.