Denver Nuggets (3-1) at New Orleans Pelicans (0-4)
NBA: Thursday, October 31st, 2019 at 9:30 pm ET (Smoothie King Center)
Line and Odds: Denver Nuggets -4 Over/Under: 224.5
Free ESPN NBA Picks New Orleans Pelicans vs. Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets have played well in their first 4 games, this season. The Nuggets went 4-0 in the preseason, but any astute sports observer is hesitant to put too much stock into preseason final scores. Once the season actually started, they proved they are worthy of being taken seriously in the Western Conference. Denver opened the season with 3 straight wins. The Nuggets beat the division-rival Portland Trail Blazers 108-100 on the road in their season debut. Denver’s home debut saw a 108-107 win over the Phoenix Suns and followed it up with a road win against the Kings 101-94. Their 3 game winning streak ended with a 109-106 home loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Denver is 12th in offensive rating and 11th in defensive rating. The Nuggets score 107.2 points per 100 possessions and allow 103.9 points per 100 possessions. The key to their offense thus far has been their ability to create extra chances on within their possessions. Denver ranks near the bottom of the NBA in terms of effective field goal percentage. They rank 25th with an effective field goal percentage of 47.5%. They hit .218 free throws per field goal attempted, which ranks 16th in the NBA. However, they are in the top 10 in both offensive turnover percentage and offensive rebounding percentage. Denver ranks 8th in turnover percentage, giving the ball away on just 12.3% of their offensive plays. They rank 4th in offensive rebound percentage, grabbing boards on 26.5% of their offensive possessions.
Denver has one of the strongest starting fives in the NBA. All 5 of their starters average 12 points or more per game. They aren’t necessarily flashy, but they are certainly well-balanced. The Nuggets have been led by players like Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Will Barton. Jokic leads the team in terms of both rebounding and assists. He has averaged 12.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists to go along with 15.5 points per game. Jamal Murray leads the team in scoring, averaging 18.8 points per game. He also tosses in 5.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Will Barton averages 14.0 points, Gary Harris averages 13.5 points, and Paul Millsap averages 12.8 points per game.
The New Orleans Pelicans could really use a healthy Zion Williamson, right now. The much-hyped 19-year-old rookie from Duke has been hailed as the Pelicans’ savior, even though he hasn’t played a single minute of regular season basketball. He has been sidelined for the first 6-8 weeks of the season because of a meniscus tear in his knee. With Anthony Davis gone to Los Angeles, and Zion Williamson out of the lineup, it has not been pretty for the Pelicans. The New Orleans Pelicans have started the season 0-4 in their first 4 games. New Orleans is one of just 2 NBA teams without a win on the year (along with the 0-5 Sacramento Kings).
Despite being a winless NBA team, their offense has actually been pretty good through 4 games. New Orleans ranks 6th in offensive rating so far, averaging 109.8 points per 100 possessions. They are 2nd in points per game, scoring 121.0 points per game. The Pelicans are top 10 in effective field goal percentage, offensive turnover percentage, and offensive rebound percentage. New Orleans shoots for an effective field goal percentage of 53.5%, ranking 9th. They are 10th in both offensive rebound percentage (23.5%) and offensive turnover percentage (13.0%).
On the flip side, the Pelicans’ defense has been atrocious. They rank 30th out of 20 NBA in scoring defense, giving up 128.3 points per game. In fairness to the Pelicans, those numbers are skewed because they like to play at a fast tempo. They rank 4th in pace, averaging 107.4 possessions per game. However, their defense is still terrible when you factor out pace. New Orleans ranks 28th in defensive rating, allowing 116.4 points per 100 possessions. Their defensive woes are the main reason they rank 25th in net rating, getting outscored by 6.6 points per 100 possessions. They have struggled to rebound on the defensive end, grabbing rebounds on just 70.8% of the defensive rebounds available. The Pelicans also struggle to force turnovers, getting takeaways on just 12.7% of their opponents’ offensive plays.
Cover The Spread 365 Betting Trends
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Denver’s last 5 games.
Denver is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games against New Orleans.
The total has gone OVER in 8 of Denver’s last 10 games on the road.
New Orleans is 5-15 ATS in their last 20 games.
The total has gone OVER in 6 of New Orleans’ last 7 games.
New Orleans is 0-5 SU in their last 5 games.
ESPN NBA Scores Denver Nuggets vs. New Orleans Pelicans
I’m taking the New Orleans Pelicans +4 in this matchup. This feels like a pretty good spot for the Pelicans to potentially get their first win of the season. One of the most important factors of this game for me is pace. As mentioned earlier, New Orleans ranks 4th in tempo so far. Alvin Gentry’s teams are known for their desire to play at a fast pace. On the other hand, Denver plays at the slowest pace in the NBA, ranking last in tempo. I think the Pelicans will be able to impose their style on the game and outrun the Nuggets. Also, the Pelicans have covered 5 of their last 6 games against the Nuggets. New Orleans’ most important player, Jrue Holiday, has been upgraded to probable. Holiday has been struggling with a knee issue, but expect him to play in this contest. The difference between these 2 teams isn’t as great as the records would lead you to believe. The Pelicans adequately rebuilt their roster, but it’s taking some time to get the chemistry right. I believe we’re going to see it come together tonight. Take the Pelicans +4.