The Daily Sweat: Nikola Jokic has been dominating, and Nuggets are rolling

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic seems honed in on winning his third straight NBA MVP, and not even voter fatigue might stop him.

Jokic went 13-of-14 from the field on Tuesday night with a 36-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist triple double in a 122-113 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Jokic is the favorite to win MVP at BetMGM, with +140 odds.

There’s one big difference between this season and Jokic’s first two MVP seasons: This Nuggets team looks like it can make a deep playoff run.

The Nuggets have the best record in the Western Conference, have won seven games in a row and have been crushing opponents. They have covered the spread in 10 of their last 12 games, showing most of their wins haven’t been particularly close.

The Nuggets are back on the court Wednesday night and are a hefty 8.5-point favorite against the Minnesota Timberwolves. That’s a large spread for a team on the second game in two nights, but it shows oddsmakers are shifting their ratings on Denver.

The biggest reason the Nuggets are playing well is Jokic, but the biggest reason for their improvement is the players around him. Jamal Murray has returned healthy. Aaron Gordon is playing the best ball of his career. The Nuggets have six players aside from Jokic averaging double-digit points. They’ve never had this kind of depth in the Jokic era. It’s a team that looks like it can make a championship run. Denver is +850 to win the NBA Finals and +400 to win the West.

Perhaps the Nuggets won’t continue to be a good value for bettors, if oddsmakers keep adjusting their spreads up. But it’s a team to keep an eye on, maybe even deep into the playoffs.

Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets is favored to win NBA MVP again. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets is favored to win NBA MVP again. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets is favored to win NBA MVP again. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Here’s a first look at the sports betting slate for Wednesday:

Rest of the NBA slate

There are nine games in the NBA on Wednesday night. The best one could be the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Memphis Grizzlies, who might be the only team hotter than the Nuggets. The Cavs are 28-17 and still 7.5-point underdogs at Memphis. It’s hard to bet against Memphis, even getting that many points with a good Cavs team. Memphis has won 10 in a row and is a half-game behind the Nuggets in the West.

Some top 25 college hoops action

There are seven ranked teams playing on Wednesday night in college hoops. Perhaps the most interesting is No. 15 UConn at Seton Hall. Connecticut is a 5.5-point favorite but has lost four of five after a 14-0 start to the season. Is this just a midseason slump for a team that looked like a Final Four contender? We should start to find out soon.

Best of the rest

The NHL has five games — keep an eye on the unbelievable Boston Bruins as a -175 favorite at the New York Islanders — and an English Premier League match. Manchester United takes on Crystal Palace, and Manchester United is a -145 favorite on the three-way line.

What’s the best bet?

I’ll go with a team that has been in this spot before and take Missouri basketball over Arkansas. Mizzou is a 1.5-point favorite at home. Arkansas has lost four of five as injuries and the depth of the SEC seems to be getting to them. Mizzou has lost three of four but all those losses came on the road, and the Tigers have been steady all season.