New Orleans Pelicans vs Denver Nuggets

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

The Denver Nuggets host the New Orleans Pelicans at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado, Sunday afternoon at 3 pm EST. Denver is currently favored by 5.5-points while the total stands at 234-points, up from 233.5 at the opening.

The Pelicans enter this contest seeking to put an end to a 2-game losing skid after falling by 8-points on the road to the Portland Trailblazers last Thursday as their offense struggled yet again making just 40% of their shots for just 93 points. The team also made just 27% of their shots from long-range while committing 12 turnovers, 4 from Zion Williamson who led the team with 26 points and 10 rebounds. New Orleans ended a 3-game stretch to where they covered the number as they were 1-point dogs in this contest.

The Nuggets won their 3rd-straight contest after pulling out a home overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls Friday night as they rallied from 10-down early to pick up their 25th win of the year. Their big-2 in Nikola Jokic along with Jamal Murray each posted 34 points with Jokic coming an assist shy of another triple-double as the team shot over 50% from the field while nailing 14 treys. Despite the win, however, the Nuggets find themselves in a tie with the Trail Blazers for 2nd in the Northwest division. They failed to cover versus the Bulls, however, as 7-point favorites and have done so in 3 of their last 5 outings.

And while Denver has recorded 5 wins outright versus the Pelicans in their last 10 meetings (including winning 3 of 5 SU at home), New Orleans is 3-1 SU in their last 4, overall. The Pelicans are also 7-3 ATS in their last 10 matchups while covering in 3 of 5 at Ball Arena.

Pelicans drop 7 of 10

Despite ranking in the top 5 in the NBA in points scored per game along with team field goal percentage, the Pelicans have been up and down on the offensive end in their last 10 outings posting an average of 110 points during this time. In essence, they followed up high-scoring performances with less than stellar nights, including in the finale of their 2-game road set versus the Trail Blazers. In their 1st matchup last Tuesday, the Pelicans put up 124 points, yet, fell by a point. Two nights later, they posted only 93 points on just 40% shooting.

Nonetheless, Williamson and Brandon Ingram has continued to post big numbers for the young Pelicans with the former scoring 23 or more in each of his last 9 starts while Ingram has been just as effective from the floor (47% FG) into being dangerous from deep making 38% of his shots. However, the duo has had issues taking care of the basketball with Williamson racking up 8 in his last 3 while Ingram has 11 during this time.

Lonzo Ball has also provided a huge lift as a scorer as well as a facilitator for the Pelicans averaging 14 points per on 43% shooting while dishing out 6 dimes per outing. Eric Bledsoe, on the other hand, has struggled throughout the year while, as of late, is averaging just 8 points per game in his last 6 starts.

To make matters worse, just as their offense can put points on the board, their defense has also allowed a ton of points to opponents ranked near the bottom in all major defensive categories on the year. In fact, during their current 10-game stretch, the team allowed 115 points or more in 7 outings. However, the Pelicans have done well for themselves in recent outings versus the Nuggets allowing only 107 points on average in their last 5 meetings. Despite this, their defense has been less than stellar in recent road outings versus their Western Conference foe allowing 130 point average in their last 5.

Denver barely holding on to 2nd-place in division

Despite the team picking up wins in 8 of their last 10 outings, overall, the Nuggets continue to find themselves in a competitive fight for 2nd-place in the Northwest division tied with Portland while being 5-games behind the Utah Jazz for the top-spot. However, the team possesses a huge talent in the paint in Jokic that has posted 30 or more in 2 of his last 3 starts while posting 3 double-doubles during this time (1 triple-double.

Murray, despite 7 turnovers versus Chicago, has been just as effective on the perimeter shooting over 40% on the year, including hitting 6 of 7 treys in the team’s win last Friday. Furthermore, Michael Porter, Jr. along with Will Barton have also been deadly from deep shooting at least 40% from long-range as Denver is ranked 4th in the league in this area along with 4th in points scored per game and field goal percentage.

However, like the Pelicans, the Nuggets have been less than stellar on the defensive end giving up 47% shooting to their opponents in 2020-21. In fact, despite winning 3-straight, the team surrendered an average of 116 points during this time. Denver has also had issues versus the Pelicans in recent matchups giving up an average of 117 points in their last 4 meetings.

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet

While it is true that the Pelicans have had success versus the Nuggets in recent meetings, the fact is that Denver brings in a ton of momentum for this contest not only picking up wins in 8 of their last 10 outings, but covering in 6 of 10 as well.   Besides, I feel as though New Orleans will fall behind while attempting to curb the scoring abilities of Jokic and Murray throughout.  Williamson and Ingram will get their share of shots for the road team, however, look for the Nuggets to prevail and cover in the end.

Denver Nuggets -5.5

Want another opinion on this pick?


Full-Game Total Pick

On paper, this contest seems as though it can be one where Denver will dominate offensively, particularly with the Pelicans continuing their struggles on the defensive end.  On the other hand, the Nuggets have had their issues on the defensive end of the floor as well that can allow the Pelicans to exploit these weaknesses at some point.  However, the under has not only been the play in 4 of the last 5 versus the squads, but in their last 3 meetings at Ball Arena.  I will ride with the trends and go with the under as the smart play.

Under 234