Pelicans vs Nuggets – NBA Pick for December 15th
Spread: Nuggets -1.5
The Pelicans and Nuggets have had fairly similar seasons thus far. Both teams are hovering around the middle of the Western Conference playoff picture and both have also had to deal with a fair number of injuries to this point. Fortunately, both Denver and New Orleans come into this game tonight fairly healthy. The Nuggets are down Paul Millsap and may be without Will Barton tonight, but Nikola Jokic is expected to return from his ankle injury.
Despite the injuries, the Nuggets have still been able to alternate wins and losses over their last 5 games. They were beaten 124-118 in their last game by the Celtics, but they put forth a valiant effort despite playing without Jokic, Millsap and Barton.
With those frontcourt cogs missing, the team’s backcourt took charge. Gary Harris (36) and Jamal Murray (28) combined to score 64 points in a losing effort, though with Jokic back they should have some offensive pressure taken off of their shoulders tonight.
This will already be the third meeting of the season between the Nuggets and Pels, and the second to take place in the Mile High City. Things didn’t go well at all for New Orleans the last time they visited Pepsi Center, as they were throttled by a score of 146-114. Denver overwhelmed the Pelicans 37-19 in the first quarter and never looked back.
The Pels were able to get some revenge the last time they met, as New Orleans earned a 123-114 win at home earlier this month. DeMarcus Cousins was completely unstoppable that night, finishing with 40 points and 22 rebounds in the win. Denver was without Jokic, and as a result, there was nobody capable of handling the big man. Anthony Davis, who will play tonight, also missed that game with a groin issue.
Despite rolling with 2 7-footers, the Pelicans play a super fast style of offense. Most expected the team to slow things down with Cousins and Davis playing together, but they aren’t afraid to run up-and-down with anybody. The Pels play at the 6th-fastest pace in the league, while the Nuggets check in at 13th.
Interestingly enough, the Pelicans have been the best “over” bet in the NBA this year. New Orleans has an over/under record of 18-11 so far this season. The Nuggets, meanwhile, are 13-15.
The implied total of 225 points for this game is the highest on the 11-game slate tonight, but it looks a little low for a game involving these teams. Their first couple of meetings blew past this total, and there’s little reason to expect anything different tonight. The Pelicans’ offense has been improving, while their defense has been getting worse. In fact, both teams have topped the 100-point plateau in 9 consecutive Pelicans games.