Utah at New Orleans
Time: 7 PM CST (NBA LP)
Spread: UTAH -5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Utah Jazz possesses the NBA’s longest winning streak at 10 games, and it will look to extend that streak as it travels to face the Pelicans in the Bayou. The Jazz is 5-point favorites in the game and the over/under is set at 227 points by NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
The Utah Jazz is 28-12 thus far this season, and it is the league’s hottest team entering 2020.
Things have been slower coming together following the addition of point guard Mike Conley, perhaps than anyone may have expected. The veteran is coming around after a horrid start to this season and now averaging 13.6 points and 4.6 assists per game. His ball-handling and offense help keep Donovan Mitchell ready to find his scoring spots, and Mitchell is blossoming into a true superstar in his third season.
“Spida” as Mitchell goes by, is averaging 24.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game while talking a PER just over 20. Perhaps the biggest surprise for the Jazz has been that Bojan Bogdanovic is far more than a role player, but more of a second star. This changes a lot.
Bogdanovic is averaging 20.9 points per game while shooting 41.1 percent from behind the arc on seven-plus attempts per game. His offense helps the Jazz continue to play its slow, defense-first style of basketball, of course, cued by the defense of Rudy Gobert. Gobert is averaging 14.9 points and 14.5 boards per game, but his 2.6 blocks/steals help further illustrate his importance to Utah. His rim protection is among the league’s best, and he covers the occasional blunders of Mitchell and the Jazz’s other perimeter defenders nearly flawlessly.
Also, Utah has stepped up its scoring to 109.7 per game this year, and with the way that Utah defends, that should be adequate to put together another very nice season. While few are quick to credit the Jazz in the realms of the elite and true contenders, it arguably is the strongest of the dark horse contenders in either conference.
Despite not being in the playoff chase, the Pelicans have reasons for optimism.
New Orleans has had some injury issues, or one major one anyway: Zion Williamson, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, has yet to play this season. Even without him, and with a losing record, the Pelicans have quite a few reasons to be encouraged. Zion is scheduled to make his debut in about a week, and then the Pelicans can get a better idea of what it has with regards to team chemistry and fit. Besides that, there are several reasons for Pelicans fans to be encouraged despite a certain fate in the 2020 NBA lottery.
Paramount in those “encouraging aspects” is one Brandon Ingram. He has nearly doubled his scoring average as a Pelican, showing all of the promises he was initially thought to have when the L.A. Lakers selected him No. 2 overall. Ingram is averaging 24.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.8 blocks/steals, and those notions of a “Next Kevin Durant,” no longer look absurd as they did during his tenure as a Laker.
Jrue Holiday has quietly been sensational, as well. He is averaging 19.6 points per game, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 steals/blocks, making his biggest impact on the defensive end but still (clearly) scoring the ball just fine. JJ Redick stepped up with Josh Hart out due to injury, and he has assumed a much larger role in the offense since. Redick is tallying 15.4 points per game while providing valuable court spacing as he has done throughout his solid NBA career.
Hart has been a big threat on the boards at just 6’4”, averaging 5.8 rebounds per game to go with his 10.9 points per game.
Lonzo Ball has also been plenty of encouraging and exciting. He is averaging 11.8 points and 5.4 assists per game and his 2.4 A/TO ratio is solid. The Pelicans could be a major threat if Williamson returns healthy and clicking on all cylinders— the rookie looked great in the preseason, even if there is already a black cloud lingering over his career, in terms of health.