New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets
Time: 7 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: NOP -1
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The New Orleans Pelicans made the postseason last year, but it currently sits 4.5 games back from the No. 8 team in the West (the Utah Jazz) mostly due to injuries. The Pelicans still are just 2-13 on the road, however, and even traveling to face a rebuilding Denver Nuggets team does not put New Orleans as big favorites.
Instead, the Pels are one-point favorites over the Nuggets in a game that will air at 7 PM CT on NBA League Pass.
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New Orleans has lost three of its past four games, most recently falling to the Phoenix Suns 104-88. The Pelicans had 21 turnovers in the game and shot just 4 of 22 from three-point range, and Alvin Gentry summed it up pretty well, “Terrible, terrible, terrible, bad effort.”
The Pelicans trailed by 11 at halftime and never got going in the second half, either. Even Anthony Davis finished with a humble 16 points and 12 rebounds, while the Pelicans starting backcourt of Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans were a combined 6 of 21 from the field and 2 of 10 from three-point range.
Davis typically has been nothing short of amazing, though. The MVP candidate is averaging 23 points, 10.9 rebounds and 3.95 blocks/steals per game while posting a PER of 24. Outside of Davis, Ryan Anderson has been playing solid basketball, but few other Pelicans are playing up to their potential.
Evans missed most of the season but he has been back for nine games and the Pelicans are just 2-7 despite billing Tyreke as the key component to this team getting back on track. Evans is averaging 15 points per game but is shooting just 42.2 percent from the field.
It is still better than his backcourt mate Gordon, who was at one point in his career on a quick path to superstardom (while playing for the L.A. Clippers). Gordon has shot under 40 percent from the floor, and it stands to reason that Jrue Holiday will eventually be worked back into the starting lineup, though it has not happened yet.
Holiday has seen his minutes upped and is averaging 26.6 minutes per game over his past three games while averaging 16 points and 3.3 assists over that span. Holiday came to New Orleans as part of a heavily criticized trade which in the end turned out to be nothing but favorable as the Pelicans surrendered a lottery pick (which fell in the low part of the lottery the following year) to obtain an All-Star, even if he is battling back from injury this season.
The Nuggets have not been nearly as bad as expected and a big reason why is the resurgence of Danilo Gallinari who had battled injuries in the last two seasons. The Italian forward is averaging 17.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game while posting a PER of 18.3. Equally as vital has been the standout play of swingman Will Barton who is averaging just under 15 points per game in 28 minutes a night, while also snagging 5.7 boards per contest.
Rookie Emmanuel Mudiay has been inefficient and struggled with turnovers, but a lot of that is expected of a rookie point guard. Mudiay fell in the draft to the No. 7 pick much to Denver’s delight, as he was projected to be a top-3 pick weeks prior to the draft.
Uncertainty about his game was driven due to the fact he spent what would have been his freshman collegiate season toiling away in Guangdong, China.
Mudiay has averaged 10.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.7 assets per game, but is turning it over four times per contest while shooting just 31.1 percent from the field and 24.7 percent from three. He has missed the last three games, however, and is not expected to be ready to go for this game either.
Even though the Pelicans are struggling, this will be a tough win for Denver as underdogs because the Pelicans are clearly underachieving and capable of breaking out on any night, while this Nuggets team is somewhat overachieving and not a great scoring club averaging just 97.7 points per game.
What Denver lacks in depth and talent is made up for in excitement, and Nuggets fans are just happy the team has been competitive. Denver is 5-7 at the Pepsi Center this year, and if it can become a tougher home team it could even challenge for the postseason, howsoever early it is to say that.