It’s a big day for bettors in Louisiana, as online sports betting has launched at multiple sites.
And it’s a big night for the New Orleans Pelicans who host the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center at 7 p.m. local time.
After a horrible start and losing star Zion Williamson to an injury (his return is still unknown), the Pels have played much better in the last two months. They are 18-29 in the Southwest Division, 11th overall in the Western Conference and are edging closer to a playoff spot.
The Pelicans are 18-29 and have won two of their last three.
Brandon Ingram leads the Pelicans with 22.4 points a game. Jonas Valanciunas chips in with 18.3. And keep an eye on Pelicans rookie Herb Jones who has become a factor on both ends of the court.
The Nuggets are 26-21 and in a comfortable spot in the Western Conference (sixth). They have won three games in a row and they feature All-Star center Nikola Jokic who leads the team in the five major categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.
He’s best known for his wizardry passing the ball – not many centers average 7.6 assists a game as he does.
What do the oddsmakers say
BetMGM has the over/under total listed as 215.5, while the other three have set the figure at 215.
The Pelicans are 22-25 against the spread this season, but 13-9 at home. The Nuggets are 19-26 against the spread and just 10-15 against the spread on the road.
New Orleans comes in averaging 105.7 points a game, while the Nuggets put in 108.3 a night.
Pelicans & Nuggets going head-to-head
The two teams met on Dec. 8 in Crescent City with the Nuggets prevailing 120-114 in overtime.
The game was back-and-forth, with the Pelicans losing a late lead, and then Jokic took over in overtime, scoring 11 of his game-high 39 points in the win.
Denver has won the last three meetings between the two teams dating back to last season.
Talking it over/under
Friday night’s over/under total is set at 215. Four of the Pelicans last 10 games have gone over 215 points.
Meanwhile, seven of the Nuggets last 10 games have gone over 215. When Jokic and the Nuggets are in rhythm, they score a lot of points.
In their last 10 games, the Pelicans have hit the over five times and the under five. For the Nuggets, they have gone over seven times of their last 10.
Injuries have plagued the Pels all season. They still haven’t given a timeline for the return of Williamson from his foot injury, which is concerning to Louisiana sports fans.
The Pelicans were without multiple players in their last game, a loss to the 76ers, but lead the game throughout and played hard.
Josh Hart is listed as questionable for the Nuggets game as is Ingram. The Nuggets will be at relatively full strength.
If you’ve watched the Pelicans lately, you’ve seen a team that’s started to create a bit of an identity as a tough, scrappy group. Jones has been a big contributor when he’s in the game and he’s a fan favorite at the Smoothie King Center.
But the Pelicans have no answer for Jokic, that’s OK, not many teams do. The Nuggets can kind of drift in games and seem to like to keep things close.
Playing at home gives the Pelicans a boost. I’m leaning toward taking the points.