Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#575 Denver Nuggets 231 vs.
#576 New Orleans Pelicans -4
Friday, January 24, 2020 at 8:05pm EST
Smoothie King Center, New Orleans
Written by Sporty Jordy

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W/L
ATS
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PPG
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#575 Denver
#576 New Orleans
30-14
17-28
17-21-6
21-21-3
18-26
26-19
109
114
105
117

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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.

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Injuries piling up for the Nuggets

News 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 Zion

It 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.

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The Pelicans shot of pulling off a win skyrocket tremendously with the game not taking place at the house of horrors in Denver. Gentry will likely give Williamson a few more minutes this time around, but I’m not expecting the rookie to see full-time work just yet, even if it means losing another basketball game.

But the Pelicans aren’t losing this time out.

It’s easy to overlook some of the great things the team has been doing recently. They have won three of their last five games with the victories coming against the Utah Jazz, Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies.

The team also nearly upended the Clippers in an offensive shootout at home as well. Jrue Holiday returning to the floor to join Brandon Ingram has given the Pelicans a much-needed offensive boost. The team is averaging 49.2 percent shooting from the floor in their last three outings taking on a Nuggets team is virtually in shambles with a slew of key injuries. I’m taking the Pelicans at home on Friday.

Prediction: New Orleans Pelicans (-3)

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The Pelicans are an intriguing offensive team with Williamson on the floor. Not only does he have the ability to create shots, but his high basketball I.Q. and situational awareness instantly makes him one of the game’s elite assist-men. He isn’t going to play 30 minutes in this game, but he will play long enough to make a significant impact.

The Pelicans are averaging a ridiculous 124.3 points per game in their last three outings. That’s the second-best scoring run in all of basketball right now. The Nuggets gave up 121 points to the Rockets in their last game, and they are bound to give up a slew of points to the Pelicans as well. Give me the over betting total here.

Prediction: Over (231)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Sporty Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys and all the Sun Drop you can drink.