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The Denver Nuggets, with a strong 9-2 record, lead the Western Conference as they face the New Orleans Pelicans (5-6) on the road in the Bayou.
Nikola Jokic is playing the way only he can and averaging 30 points, 13.9 rebounds (both career-highs), and 8.4 assists. Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson lead the Pels, although neither has been at their best so far.
Here, we will discuss the betting odds and share our favorite betting picks for Friday’s showdown.
The Pelicans are home underdogs against the defending champions, who won five of their last six games.
Odds from BetMGM Sportsbook. Use our BetMGM promo code for a $1,500 welcome bonus.
|Denver Nuggets||-4.5 (-115)||-190||Over 224.5 (-110)|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+4.5 (-105)||+155||Under 224.5 (-110)|
The Nuggets were handed a real challenge by the Los Angeles Clippers the last time they took the court. They finally succeeded in blending James Harden into their offense and gave Denver a steady diet of the pick-and-roll and attacked switches whenever they got them.
However, the story at the end of the game was the Nuggets’ unmatched ability to execute their offensive sets. They ran a wedge concept five plays in a row late in the fourth quarter and got points from all of them, which allowed them to come back and avoid handing the Clippers their first road win of the year.
The Nuggets are second in net rating and have seen drastic improvements on the defensive side of the ball, improving from 15th in defensive rating a year ago to sixth in 2023. That speaks to not only their continuity but is a testament to young players such as Zeke Nnaji and Peyton Watson who have made large impacts off the bench.
One of the most impressive parts of the way Denver plays is their change of pace. They’ll fly down the court off missed baskets, but if they don’t have open looks, they’ll slow the game down to a screeching halt in the halfcourt (28th in pace of play).
It’s still early, but they look like an even more disciplined and cohesive unit than they did during their championship run. The scariest part is that they’ve been without Jamal Murray, who was instrumental to their success during the postseason.
The Pelicans have not enjoyed the same amount of early-season success the Nuggets have. They’re only 23rd in net rating with an average scoring margin of -4.5 points.
NO had lost five straight games until it blew out the Dallas Mavericks 131-110 on Tuesday. Ingram finished that game with 25 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists, while rookie first-round pick Jordan Hawkins put up 25 points (5-12 3PT) and six rebounds off the bench.
The Pels are bad on the glass (20th in rebound rate) despite having size and length in their starting five. They also dropped from sixth in defensive rating last season to 18th this time around.
C.J. McCollum is out on Friday as he recovers from a collapsed right lung. The team announced he is healing well but did not provide a timeline for his return.
McCollum’s absence is an opportunity for Ingram and Williamson to assert themselves more since both have been lackluster to start the year.
The Nuggets are 2-2 on the road while the Pelicans are 3-3 at home. The former has not won on the road since the third game of the season and struggled on the road last year (19-22 overall).
Denver clearly has the best player in the matchup in Jokic. There’s also something to be said for their trust in each other and their system, which allows them to find good looks with greater regularity than any team in the league.
The Pelicans are going to need big games from Hawkins and second-year guard Dyson Daniels, who is starting in McCollum’s place. Daniels is third on the team in defensive rating and tied a career-high with six assists last game, while Hawkins’ explosiveness from three will be crucial in putting together runs to keep pace with Denver.
All in all, we like the defending champs to win and cover in LA. Their offense is simply unstoppable, and the Pelicans need a lot to go right without McCollum just to have a chance at keeping it close.
Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.More info on Grant Mitchell
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