New Orleans (8-23) has answered a 13-game losing streak with two wins in its last three outings. No. 1 pick Zion Williamson has yet to play in a game this season as he returns from knee surgery. Reports are surfacing that Williamson is intensifying his rehab program but is still “a ways away” from returning to the game action. Brandon Ingram leads the team and is 13th in the NBA averaging 25.8 points per game. Ingram had 25 points and five assists in the Pelicans’ last game against the Nuggets, a 122-107 victory back on Halloween.
Denver (21-8) owns the longest active winning streak in the NBA and will try to make it 8 in a row. The Nuggets are coming off their one of their best wins of the season, a 128-104 route of the Lakers on Monday night, though it must be noted that Los Angeles was playing without Lebron James. Nikola Jokic has been a Swiss Army Knife for Denver this season, averaging nearly a triple-double. His scoring has trended upward of late, averaging 22.2 points over his last 10 games, five points above his season average of 17.4
ESPN’s FPI gives the Nuggets an 84.3% chance of winning this game. We break down the line and offer our best bets and analysis for the Christmas Day matchup between the Pelicans and Nuggets.
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Pelicans vs. Nuggets Game Details
Date: Wednesday, December 25
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Location: Pepsi Center (Denver, Colorado)
Spread: Nuggets -9.5
This line opened at Nuggets -10 and has been bet down slightly to Nuggets -9.5 despite the majority of the bets and money coming in on Denver. This indicates a slight reverse line move favoring the Pelicans.
- Pelicans are 8-23 SU and 11-19-1 ATS this season
- Nuggets are 21-8 SU and 12-14-3 ATS this season
- Under is 17-14 in Pelicans games this season
- Under is 18-11 in Nuggets games this season
Analysis & Picks
The Pelicans are starting to turn a corner on the defensive end. I believe it revolved mostly around the team’s improved play as they fight for head coach Alvin Gentry’s job. The proof is also in the numbers, as New Orleans is holding opponents to just 99.6 points over their last three games. I expect this game to also be low-scoring as Denver plays at the slowest pace in the league. The Nuggets must also defend center Jahlil Okafor, who scored a season-high 26 points the last times these teams met. Okafor will be matched up against Nikola Jokic, who is a solid interior defender. Both teams have been profitable under bets this season with the Nuggets cashing at an impressive 62% clip. I thought the number was a little high when I first saw it, as the last four Pelican games have stayed under this current total of 218.5. Considering the pace, and New Orleans’ renewed focus on the defensive end, this feels like a good spot for the under, but give I’ll take the first-half under instead of the full game, just to avoid any second-half hijinx.
PICK: Under 112 1st half
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith