New Orleans at Dallas
Time: 8:30 PM CST (ESPN)
Spread: DAL -7
Odds c/o 5dimes
The New Orleans Pelicans have dropped two-straight, but it is not giving up on its hopes of catching the No. 8 seeded Memphis Grizzlies. The Pelicans trail Memphis by four games for the West’s Final playoffs spot, fresh on the heels of the news that Zion Williamson won the NBA’s Rookie of the Month for February.
With Zion gaining more steam, the Pelicans visit Dallas as 7-point underdogs in the second half of Wednesday night’s ESPN doubleheader at 8:30 PM (CST). The point total for this clash is set at 239.5 per oddsmakers at 5dimes.
At 26-35, the New Orleans Pelicans have formed an identity and some purpose, but now it all comes together with one Zion Williamson back in the fold. A highly vaunted pick and hailing from Duke, Williamson is expected to transform the Pelicans.
Through 16 games, Williamson is averaging 24.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.3 blocks/steals while posting a PER of 25.66. The scary part is this is merely scratching the surface for the physical freak that is Zion…The Pelicans are confident Williamson will keep them in the postseason conversation. Williamson has scored 30 points per game over the last two, including his 35 points, seven-rebound performance in the 114-122 loss to the Lakers on Mar. 1.
Williamson is a unique high-caliber athlete who at just 6’7” packs a lot of muscle and explosiveness onto his frame. It initially caused some knee soreness and issues, but the Pelicans helped him work through that by tinkering with his stride and running form. The result should be an even stronger Zion, and the fans around the league are eager to get a glimpse at the player being billed by many as a “generational talent.” Whether Williamson puts up big numbers in his debut or not, it is sure to be a specter of intrigue for everyone to see how he fares right out of the gate this season.
Thus far, the Pelicans have built most of its offense around the breakout talent of Brandon Ingram. While Ingram mostly languished in his first seasons in Los Angeles, he has thrived in the Bayou. Ingram is averaging 25.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists while playing 34.7 minutes per game. Team leader Jrue Holiday leads the team in minutes (35.5) and also totals over 20 points per game while dishing a team-tying-best 6.3 assists per game.
Lonzo Ball has found his stride in New Orleans as well, averaging 12 points and 6.3 assists, and 5.8 rebounds, while having started in 27 games this season. J.J. Redick, as the consummate pro he is, has seamlessly thrived in the Pelicans offense as a floor spacer.
E’Twaun Moore provides a similar role in the second unit, as 10 instant offense points in 21 minutes a night. The Pelicans also have managed to get strong play from both veteran forward Derrick Favors and rookie Jaxson Hayes. Hayes has displayed plenty of potentials to substantiate the lottery pick New Orleans spent on him, averaging 8.5 points and 4.6 boards in just 16 minutes a night.
Favors is just shy of a double-double in 24 minutes a night. The two combine to spell the 5-spot quite effectively. But how will the lineup transform with Williamson? So far, his gravity alone has suggested he will be a high-impact player, and with his first game bringing a 4 of 4 three-point shooting performance he may do it with more than just sheer power in his career. Williamson appears to be a generational multi-dimensional athlete, and if the Pelicans can really get him to gel with Brandon Ingram it could be on the verge of forming a formidable postseason team sooner than was expected perhaps.
DALLAS news & notes:
The Dallas Mavericks have won six of its last 10 overall SU. It has fared 22-14 against fellow Western Conference teams and is 16-14 at home where it hosts tonight’s game. The Mavericks have a +6.0 point differential, which ranks ahead of all Western Conference teams except for the No. 1 and No. 2 seeded L.A. Lakers and Denver Nuggets.
Luka Doncic has gone atomic since returning from injury, but it came with the nasty fact that the other star, Kristaps Porzingis, is now out with right knee soreness. Both Doncic and Porzingis were out last game, and the result was that Seth Curry simply had his best game of the season as the mavericks rallied to defeat the Hornets 116-100. Curry scored 26 off the bench in connecting on 6 of 8 from three-point range, and he added six rebounds and three assists while finishing with a +20 mark for his 28 minutes on the court.
With Doncic out, the Mavericks got a good look at Kristaps Porzingis, who turned in another strong game in the Mavs’ loss to Boston. He tallied 23 points on 8 of 19 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds, three blocks, two assists, and a steal but is out for an indefinite period now. It has been hard to keep its core healthy. The Mavericks have had a difficult time getting its core together healthy, but are still 32-21 and 18-8 on the road this season.
Doncic had 35 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists in the 120-112 win over Portland. Tim Hardaway Jr. added 29 points and five made triples.
On the season Porzingis is averaging 17.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, but all suggestions are that he was able to greatly increase his usage percentage with Doncic unavailable. The Mavericks need to get another guy to step up, because Doncic left a 29.3 point, 8.9 assist hole when he sprained his ankle. While he is expected to make a full recovery and is already back in triple-double form (!), the Mavs are still in overhaul replacing his production.
Although the Doncic-Porzingis punch is a strong one, the Mavericks still seem to be lacking a “third star” to complete the picture.