New Orleans at Indiana
Time: 6 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: IND -6.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
New Orleans has lost seven of its last 10 games, but still lingers out of the Western Conference playoff picture seven games below .500 on the season. Patience is wearing thin in New Orleans, a team never able to perhaps maximize the immense talents of its superstar, Anthony Davis. Davis is fated to play the remainder of the season, with a heart that is no doubt already out of New Orleans.
Davis has been fantastically dominant, but while Jrue Holiday has had an outstanding season in his own right, this team seems several pieces shy of having what it takes to contend in the Western Conference. Because of that, a lot of blame has been assigned to Davis, whose eventual future may not be in the Bayou. The former Kentucky Wildcat is averaging 28.9 points, 13.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.8 steals, and 2.7 blocks per game while posting a PER of 31.3, but outside of Holiday and Randle this team just lacks some of the pieces it needs to compete with the top teams in the West.
Holiday is averaging 20.7 points and Julius Randle adds another 19.8. Nikola Mirotic has battled injuries but ideally completes a solid top-4. Where the Pelicans fall apart mostly is due to its lack of depth. After E’Twaun Moore, the rotation falls off to a number of players with glaring offensive deficiencies, from Elfrid Payton’s sheer lack of shooting to Tim Frazier’s inconsistencies, the Pelicans bench begins to relay the reasons this team cannot manage to sustain the strong play of its starting-5, bolstered, of course, by Davis.
A lot of the blame has fallen on GM Dell Demps and his numerous dubious decisions. While gambling on DeMarcus Cousins may have made enough sense at the time, the Pelicans really could use the player it dealt to obtain Cousins in Buddy Hield. New Orleans needs another premier perimeter threat, shooting, and it needs a “three and D” small forward (like Robert Covington?) in the worst way. Without adding these necessary pieces the Pels can still knock off mediocre teams like tonight’s opponent, but making any meaningful ascent will elude this roster.
The Indiana Pacers were counted out by many when Victor Oladipo suffered a season-ending injury, but the Pacers have basically said “Not so fast,” since that point. Indiana has now won six of its last seven to improve to 38-20 on the season. There is no discounting what a true team is capable of. And then there is the caveat that this may be the “Ewing effect,” wherein a team only gets better after losing its superstar. With Oladipo on the sidelines in a suit, several Pacers have stepped up to play the best ball of their respective NBA careers.
Chief of those performers is one who we had suspected was not performing to the best of his ability: Myles Turner. Turner had 18 points and eight boards in the last Pacers’ victory, a 99-90 win over Indiana. Over his last five games, Turner has averaged 16.3 points per game and 2.5 blocks, which is three points (nearly) better than his season average. He is listed as questionable for tonight’s game against New Orleans, as he is suffering from a bruised right hip. If Turner is unable to go, it will be difficult for the Pacers to cover — theoretically, that is. New Orleans is engaged in a tank mode while the Pacers are gearing up for the postseason—with or without Oladipo. The 6.5-point spread seems generous, but the fates of these teams need to be taken (heavily) into account, here.