When and where: January 24, 2020, Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA, 8:00 PM ET
The injury-riddled Denver Nuggets head off to the rollicking madhouse that is the Smoothie King Center on Friday night for a head-to-head showdown with the New Orleans Pelicans. A loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night feels like a win for the Pelicans after rookie No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williamson’s astonishing NBA debut. The Pelicans will look to get him some more work against a Nuggets team coming off a 121-105 loss to the Houston Rockets.
Injuries piling up for the NuggetsNews of forward Mason Plumlee being out for at least two weeks with an ankle injury wasn’t even surprising for the Nuggets. Injuries have become a way of life for the team in recent weeks with guys being in and out of the lineup. Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap are both out indefinitely, while Gary Harris and Michael Porter Jr. remain questionable for Friday’s game against the Pelicans. Players are dropping like flies as the Nuggets attempt to hold onto fourth place in the Western Conference standings.
They are coming off a 121-105 road loss to the Rockets in a game where star center Nikola Jokic earned a triple-double.
Things won’t get any easier on the road against a Pelicans team feeling the energy from the arrival of Zion Williamson. The statistics haven’t necessarily looked pretty all season, but it would be foolish to judge without seeing them in action with the star rookie in the starting lineup.
They are currently ranked 25th in the league in defensive efficiency taking on Denver’s 20th-ranked scoring offense. The Nuggets pressure opponent sinto low-scoring games with their dominant defense and typically eke out victories.
Even before Williamson, the Pelicans have shown some encouraging offensive signs, particularly in their ability to score points. They are averaging 114.5 points per game and preparing for a visit from Denver’s 10th-ranked defense. Something has to give in this matchup.
Welcome to the land of ZionIt was lights, camera and action the moment star rookie Zion Williamson stepped on the court on Wednesday night for his first NBA regular season game. He finished the game with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists in only 18 minutes on the floor against the Spurs. An argument could easily be made that the Pelicans would have actually won the game if coach Alvin Gentry didn’t bench Williamson at the end.
But this is a marathon, not a sprint. The Pelicans are going to do whatever they can to protect their investment.
They’ll enter Friday’s game ranked 18th in the league in offensive efficiency. Even with the Nuggets banged-up right now, they have plenty of defensive talent to give the Pelicans fits. It’ll be interesting to see how many minutes the team gives Williamson. The chance to play such a talented defensive team like the Nuggets would boost his experience and confidence.
Perhaps he can even help improve a Pelicans defense allowing an average 47.1 field goal shooting percentage at home this season. Jokic in particular will be a handful for the undersized Pelicans to deal with in the paint.
The supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Nuggets are 3-8-1 ATS in their last 12 games against a team with a winning % below .400.
- Nuggets are 3-8-2 ATS in their last 13 games against a team with a losing straight up record.
- Nuggets are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 Friday games.
- Pelicans are 35-16 ATS in their last 51 home games against a team with a road winning % of greater than .600.
- Pelicans are 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 games overall.
- Pelicans are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 home games.
- Pelicans are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up loss.