Denver Nuggets vs New Orleans Pelicans

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The New Orleans Pelicans host the Denver Nuggets in Friday night NBA action from the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans beginning at 8 pm EST. Currently, the Nuggets are favored by 2-points for the contest while the total stands at 231-points, up from 230 at the opening.

The Nuggets dropped their 2nd-game in 3 outings after falling hard on the road versus the Toronto Raptors Wednesday night by 24-points. Toronto was able to open the game up in the 2nd-quarter going up by 18 at the half en route to sending Denver to their 18th loss of the year. The Nuggets shot a dismal 42% from the floor and were led by Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, who each posted 20 points. Michael Porter, Jr. had 5 treys, yet, the team shot just 33% from long-range on the night. Denver failed to cover as 1.5-point favorites and are just 1-3 ATS in their last 4 games.

The Pelicans won their 2nd-straight Tuesday night as they took out the Lebron James-less Los Angeles Lakers at home by 17 as they outscored the defending champs by a 70-47 margin in the 2nd and 3rd quarters as they picked up their 19th win of the season. Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson led the team yet again as the former posted 36 points while going 4-6 from deep while Williamson finished a rebound shy of a double-double with 27 points and 9 boards on 9-13 shooting. The team was able to cover as 5.5-point favorites and are a red-hot 5-1 ATS in their last 6.

The Pelicans have picked up wins in 3 of the last 5 home games versus the Nuggets (4-1 SU in last 5, overall). New Orleans is also 8-2 ATS in their last 10 versus Denver, including racking up a 4-1 record against the number at the Smoothie King Center.

Nuggets desperately in need of a win

The most recent loss knocked the Nuggets to 6.5-games behind the Utah Jazz for 1st in the Northwest division. More importantly, the team stands only a half-game ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers for 2nd-place. In other words, the Nuggets must string together some wins if they are to remain in the hunt for 1st in the division. However, their 4th ranked offense must perform better than they have during their recent 3 outings (averaging 109 points). In fact, the team has posted less than 109 points in 4 of their last 6 versus the Pelicans.

Only 4 days ago, Denver finished with just 108 points in a 5-point home loss to New Orleans. The Nuggets went up by 8-points at the end of the 1st period only to be outscored 91-78 the remainder of the way to suffer the loss. Jokic led the way with 29 points, 10 boards, along with 10 assists while sinking 3 of 4 treys while Murray posted 23 points and 7 dimes while adding an additional 3 long-balls as the Nuggets shot 50% FG along with 35% from deep.

However, they also committed 15 turnovers while also being heavily outrebounded, including allowing 14 offensive boards to New Orleans. Porter, Jr., who continues to perform at a high level, scored 17 on 50% shooting (2-5 3FG) while Will Barton posted 16 points and 6 assists on a dismal shooting night (7-19 FG/2-9 3FG). Important to note that Barton is coming off a scoreless night versus the Raptors ending 0-8 from the floor along with 0-3 from deep. The Nuggets are averaging just 107 points in their last 3 roadies versus the Pelicans.

Pelicans seek 3rd-straight win

After dropping 3 of 5 after the All-Star break, the Pelicans have now picked up wins in each of their last 2 outings, with one being over the Nuggets on the road March 21st. Their win over the Lakers put them at 19-24 on the year and are only 3 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for 3rd-place in the Southwest Division. Furthermore, the trends suggest that they will have success in this contest as well as both Ingram and Williamson are coming off a dominating performance versus the Nuggets in their last meetings.

Despite the duo combining to go 3-8 from long-distance March 21st, they went 20-36 from the floor in addition to making 17 of 20 free-throws to post 30 points each. Important to add, however, that they each had 4 of the team’s 16 turnovers for the contest. New Orleans received 20 points (his 2nd 20-point performance in 4 outings) from guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who is coming off an 18-points, 7 rebound performance versus the Lakers.

However, Eric Bledsoe went just 3-8 for the contest while missing each of his 3 attempts from deep. The point guard has struggled all year posting some of the worst shooting and scoring numbers of his career (41% FG). In fact, he has posted double-digits in just one of his last 7 starts while scoring just 2 points versus Los Angeles on 1-8 shooting (0-3 3FG). Lonzo Ball is questionable for this contest with a hip flexor while shooter JJ Reddick is not due back in the lineup until early April due to a heel injury.

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet
Rating:

The Pelicans have dominated this matchup of late picking up wins against the number in 7 of 8 meetings versus the Nuggets, overall, including 4 of the last 5 at Smoothie King Center.  Furthermore, while Denver has won 7 of their last 10 outright, they are just 5-5 against the spread during this time.  New Orleans has won 4 of 6 entering this contest while covering in all but one of these contests and will cover the plus points in this showdown as well.

Prediction:
New Orleans Pelicans +2

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Full-Game Total Pick
Rating:

I certainly like the over in this contest as it has been the play in 4 of the last 6 games for Denver in addition to being the result in 5 of the last 7 homers for the Pelicans.  The Pelicans tend to give up a lot of points to their opponents while the Nuggets have also struggled in this area this season.  Besides, the over has been the play in 4 of the last 5 games at the Smoothie King Center.

Prediction:
Over 231