Arena: Ball Arena
Home Floor: Denver Nuggets
NBA is inching closer towards the trade deadline and usually, we see an explosion of trades a day or two ago around the deadline day. And trust me, you never know which big-time names get moved around this deadline and turn the seasons round. There are of course many teams that have multiple areas to address and there are always those sleeper teams that don’t figure in the rumors but end up making bonanza trades. And can’t these two teams who meet here in Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans pull off some moves before the deadline?
The Nuggets have certainly fared better than the Pelicans and why not! Despite missing their key two-way Forward Michael Porter Jr. and key offensive guard Jamal Murray, the Nuggets have been able to lodge 28 wins and 23 losses, largely on the back of the reigning MVP Nikola Jokic. They have lost the last two games but were on a five-game winning streak before that. The Nuggets need Jokic to be effective and lost their last game against a short-handed Jazz without him.
On the other hand, the Pelicans have played without their superstar Forward Zion Williamson all season long and as a result, have compiled 32 losses and 19 wins. They have lost four of the last five games, largely because their top scorer Brandon Ingram and top rebounder Jonas Valanciunas were absent for a four-game stretch. Now, these highly talented players are back, and perhaps, the Pelicans can field a better attack now on both ends of the floor. Can they surprise the Nuggets in this game? For my game and total prediction, go to “Expert Betting Tips”.Claim Your Sign-Up Bonus!
Nuggets can make a substantial run, Pelicans still in striking distance of Play-in contention
Jokic magic for the Nuggets
Nikola Jokic leads the Nuggets in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks, which means virtually every major statistical category. The Nuggets feed off his hardwork on almost every and without him, they have lost all their games. Nikola gives the Nuggets a distinct advantage in the middle and he is the heart and soul of this team. His burden has increased ever since the absence of Porter Jr. but what has made Jokic’s season special is he doesn’t force the issue on the offensive end and around him, the rest of players can also get enough touches to make a difference.
One of those players in Aaron Gordon has surely benefitted from playing alongside Nikola and he has had some strong offensive performances, scoring more than 20 during several games and even if he has a cold shooting night, he keeps defenses occupied with his offensive skill set. Monte Morris has done well as a perimeter shooter while Will Barton has been an effective all-around guard for the Nuggets. Jeff Green is a terrific finisher while Austin Rivers, Bryn Forbes, and Bones Hyland form a decent guard combination. Will the Nuggets seek some trades to bolsters the wing position or will they stick with the current combinations and wait for Porter Jr. and Murray to return?
Will the Pelicans make some moves or do they just wait for Zion?
Pelicans have been struggling to field together winning streaks and have rather gone on long losing streaks throughout the season. The team struggled to win early in the season and began on a concerning note as they lost 12 out of their 13 games and well when you began that slow, the task of catching up becomes tough. Ever since that window, the team has won 18 games and lost 20 so yes, there have been improvements but yes without Zion, the team has been limited on both ends of the floor. So it begs a question, will they wait for Zion or make some moves to make a push towards the Play-in tournament as they are in the striking distance.
Anyway, with Ingram at the wing, the team has a high-quality scoring option who can also be an effective rebounder and playmaker. Jonas Valanciunas has taken care of the rebounding end in the middle while Josh Hart has been a viable all-around option. Meanwhile, Devonte Graham is the primary ball-handler, however, he hasn’t shot well from the field, but still provides much-needed three-point capabilities. Rookie Herbert Jones has taken advantage of the starting spot opened up by the absence of Zion, clicking on the offensive end and giving hustle on the defensive end. The bench is a bit shallow and Nickeil Alexander-Walker has rather been off from the field. Jose Alvarado and Willy Hernangomez have done well but overall, the Pelicans need a better balance.
Expert Betting Tips
Points Range: Nikola Jokic-led Nuggets have gone over 115 or so points mark on a regular basis especially against struggling defenses. On the other hand, the Pelicans have usually been in the 103-108 points range with Ingram and Valanciunas. On the defensive end, the Nuggets can pin teams under 110 while the Pelicans have limited opponents to 107 or fewer points.
The last meeting between the two teams brought 221 points in total with Nuggets scoring 116 and Pelicans 105. But in that game, both Valanciunas and Ingram weren’t present, considerably weakening the team on both ends of the floor. In this game, I feel the Nuggets will score in the 109-114 points range while the Pelicans will get around a similar range too. I think the total points range is 220-230.
Prediction: The Pelicans have been doing well since December but they still need a huge boost right now to insert themselves in the Play-in window. The Nuggets have been strong against teams with losing records and that is why playing at home, they will begin as the overwhelming favourites. However, I see a close game and Pelicans turning the tables around a hot night from Brandon Ingram. I see Jones, Ingram, Valnaciunas, and Graham combine for 90 points here with support from players like Alexander-Walker and the Pelicans edging out the Nuggets 112:109 in a tight affair.
- Any Other Score- Win With Difference Less Than 8 for 2.1;
- New Orleans Pelicans- Total Points Over 108.5 for 1.95;
- Total U 221.5 for 1.90.