The 24-37 New Orleans Pelicans and their new twin towers will aim for their first win with both players in the lineup today against the 46-13 San Antonio Spurs (9.30pm ET Friday on ESPN). San Antonio leads the season series 2-1.
Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are the two best big men in the NBA. But since acquiring Cousins last week, New Orleans has gone 0-3 when both guys play. Oddly enough, the Pelicans routed the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday by a score of 109-86 while Cousins served a suspension for surpassing the technical foul limit.
The Spurs didn’t make a trade at the deadline. They’ve just continued their torrid winning pace on the strength of MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard and several quality supporting players. The team has now won 10 of its last 12 contests, a stretch that included an eight-game road trip.
However, the Pelicans have surprisingly dominated this head-to-head matchup in New Orleans throughout the past few years. San Antonio has beaten the Pelicans on the road just one time in its last five games.
This preview now takes a look at a few questions that will shape today’s marquee matchup and lead to our betting predictions and picks conclusion.
Can Jrue Holiday Dominate Tony Parker?
The role of Jrue Holiday (pictured) has changed significantly with Cousins now in the lineup. Anthony Davis got a lot of his points in pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop situations, as well as in transition. However, Cousins is more of a traditional post-up big man – he needs the ball in his hands a lot.
This means fewer touches for New Orleans’ point guard, who has looked out of sorts in the three games in which both Cousins and Davis has played. He has averaged 10.0 points, 6.0 assists and 5.3 turnovers in 35.7 minutes per game while shooting 28.9 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from three-point range in those contests.
Not surprisingly, Holiday looked more like his normal self on Wednesday with Cousins out. He scored 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting.
Holiday gets a chance to find his rhythm against one of the weakest defensive point guards in the league (Tony Parker) on Friday. He can’t be content to let Cousins and Davis use all the possessions, because San Antonio defends the interior pretty well.
Which Pelicans Can Help The Big Men the Glass?
An underrated factor in the Pelicans’ lack of success this season has been its inability to secure rebounds. New Orleans has grabbed only 47.5 percent of available rebounds this season, which is a better mark than only the Dallas Mavericks (46.4).
Cousins should help improve that number. However, the team’s depth of rebounders is poor – with Terrence Jones waived and Omer Asik out with an illness, New Orleans has only two players averaging better than 4.5 rebounds per game: Cousins and Davis.
The Spurs, meanwhile, have five players putting up at least 5.6 rebounds per game: Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dewayne Dedmon, Kawhi Leonard and David Lee. As a team, San Antonio is fourth in the NBA in rebound percentage (51.7).
The onus will be on Pelicans like Solomon Hill, Hollis Thompson and Jrue Holiday to help their big men deal with the horde of Spurs glass-pounders.
Can Solomon Hill Stay Successful on Kawhi Leonard?
Leonard is on an extended hot stretch right now and it has really helped him in the MVP race. In his last 22 games, he has averaged 32.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and just 2.6 turnovers per 36 minutes on a 63.0 true-shooting percentage.
In the Spurs’ and Pelicans’ three matchups so far this season, Hill has done a decent job limiting Leonard. Kawhi has put up just 24.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 turnovers per 36 minutes with a true-shooting percentage of 61.6 in those games.
Hill is a strong on-ball defender, and he will need to be especially on top of his game today. If San Antonio’s No. 1 scoring option can’t get clean looks, the offense will have to run through someone else and the Pelicans will have a chance at winning.
Our Preview’s San Antonio Spurs vs New Orleans Pelicans Betting Predictions & Picks
New Orleans is still adjusting to DeMarcus Cousins on both ends of the floor, especially Jrue Holiday. The Spurs, meanwhile, aren’t really adjusting to anything right now and have found a new winning combination of Dewayne Dedmon starting and Pau Gasol coming off the bench.
A healthy San Antonio squad is also too deep for a Pelicans team missing a few complementary players due to injury. So this preview’s predictions and betting picks look like this:
- The Spurs are six-point favorites with the top U.S. online sports betting companies. Despite New Orleans’ success at home against San Antonio in the recent past, going with the Spurs on the spread is the smart decision here. The Pelicans’ record of 15-16 at home is much worse than San Antonio’s 26-7 road record. Bet on Spurs -6pts @ -110 with any of Bovada, BetOnline, 5Dimes or MyBookie
- The over-under for this game is 207 with all the online bookies as we write this. Considering the Spurs’ new, more defensive-oriented starting lineup and the Pelicans’ offensive adjustments, I’m predicting a score somewhere in the arena of 107-195. Go with the under 207 total points in the game @ -110 with 5Dimes, BetOnline or MyBookie.
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.