Two teams next to each other in the Western Conference standings will match up today as the 8-7 New Orleans Pelicans visit the 8-6 Denver Nuggets (10:30 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN).
New Orleans’ strength is its star power, led by the explosive big man combo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Meanwhile, Denver has a deep roster with several players who can potentially take over a game. Both teams have been at least decent on both ends of the floor thus far this year.
On paper, the two squads look very similar in skill. Let’s discuss a few factors to keep in mind as you place your bets for this contest. Finally, this preview will offer betting predictions and picks for the game’s two main betting lines: the spread and the total.
Will Gary Harris Be Limited At All in His Injury Return?
Harris is the Nuggets’ third-best player, following big men Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap. The young shooting guard is a solid defender with a savvy all-around offensive game which features a sweet shooting stroke and good cutting instincts.
That said, Harris has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury. Apparently, he couldn’t even lift his shoulder injury after last Thursday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s slated to return today.
Denver floundered on offense in one of the two games sans Harris, a 99-82 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. His presence as a cutter and shooter helps unlock the passing abilities of Jokic and Millsap.
However, if Harris is not totally confident in his physical abilities, he could end up actually being a liability for Denver.
Can E’Twaun Moore Get Into a Rhythm As the Fourth Option?
The Pelicans are a team with two superstars (Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins), one solid starter (Jrue Holiday) and then a big gap before its next-best player. Rajon Rondo is not the player he once was.
Moore has established himself as the No.4 scoring option on the squad, but he’s terribly inconsistent. The shooting guard has, however, shown himself to be a major X-factor for the Pelicans.
In New Orleans wins, Moore averages 14.9 points per game on a 63.2 true shooting percentage. When the Pelicans lose, he averages only 7.9 points per game on a 47.3 true shooting percentage.
A matchup against a banged-up Gary Harris could be an opportunity for Moore to have a strong game.
Can Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap Deal With Athleticism of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins?
Without question, the main intrigue in this game comes from the frontcourt matchups. Both teams have an elite big man pairing that is the strength of their roster.
The Nuggets’ Jokic and Millsap make for a very skilled duo that can shoot, pass and finish around the rim. However, they’re physically outmatched by the Pelicans’ Davis and Cousins. Both New Orleans big men are physical marvels who are very nimble and graceful for their size.
If Jokic and Millsap can play disciplined, solid defense and keep Davis and Cousins out of transition, they have a chance at winning the frontcourt matchup. Both Nuggets players will need to bring a ton of effort and focus, though.
Our Preview’s New Orleans Pelicans vs. Denver Nuggets Betting Picks & Predictions
If this game were played at a neutral site, these teams would probably have close to even odds. They are just very similar in strength. I do expect New Orleans to keep this close or even win in Denver.
The Pelicans’ frontcourt should be able to neutralize Jokic and Millsap pretty well, while the Nuggets’ depth might not be a big enough advantage to make up for New Orleans’ advantages at the power forward and center positions. Also, Jrue Holiday provides the Pelicans with dependable point guard play, something that the Nuggets lack.
- Denver is a 4 or 4.5-point favorite in this game, depending which of the online U.S. sports betting sites you check. Go with BetOnline’s best odds of Pelicans +4.5 @ -108.
- Neither team is extremely good or bad on either end of the floor and neither squad plays at a very slow or fast pace. Nuggets games have averaged 210.6 points per contest this season, and Pelicans games have averaged 216.2 points per game. As such, it seems prudent to go with the under 217pts @ -110 with BetOnline. Most other bookies have the mark a half or full point lower than that.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.