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August 22, 2014

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Vegas Play of the Day: Celtics at Nuggets

Welcome to the Sun’s newest series.

Starting now, the Talking Points blog will offer a daily sports betting pick from odds provided by the South Point. The Play of the Day will feature a selection on a game taking place within 24 hours and run seven days per week, 365 days per year.

Sportswriters Ray Brewer, Taylor Bern and I will switch off on prognostication duties, providing a brief reasoning behind the picks. The Sun has graciously donated each of us a (fictional) $10,000 bankroll for the competition.

Standings will be determined by money, not win-loss records, and posted at the bottom of the daily entry.

So let’s get to it with the inaugural Play of the Day.

Boston plus-7.5 at Denver: $250 to pay $477.27

The Nuggets set an unrealistic standard for themselves at home last year that’s inflated their betting lines all season.

Denver memorably went 38-3 straight-up, 28-13 against the spread in the 2012-13 season at the Pepsi Center. This year, the Nuggets are just 8-8 straight-up and 5-11 against the spread in their vaunted altitude.

Natural regression is part of the swing, but first-year coach Brian Shaw also deserves some of the blame for slowing down the team’s pace in lieu of its success and his personnel. The NBA season is nearing its midway point, but Shaw remains clueless managing his rotation.

Frustration is boiling over to the players, as evidenced by Shaw’s ongoing dispute with veteran point guard Andre Miller. Back-to-back wins against mediocre Memphis and lowly Los Angeles aren’t enough to prove the issues have passed.

It’s a rookie-coaching mismatch, as Boston’s Brad Stevens has done wonders with a bottom-tier roster to unexpectedly get his team into playoff contention. But the Celtics have hit a rough patch in losing and failing to cover in seven of eight.

Six of those seven setbacks were against teams currently in the playoffs, though. Denver is a drop-off in competition, and one Stevens’ schemes can exploit.

The former Butler coach put guards Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley in position to succeed against Denver in the teams’ first matchup this season as Boston rolled to a 106-98 victory.

Standings: Keefer (0-0, $10,000), Brewer (0-0, $10,000), Bern (0-0, $10,000)

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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