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NBA Odds, Expert Picks & Predictions: 2 Best Bets for Spurs vs. Pelicans (Thursday, December 22)

NBA Odds, Expert Picks & Predictions: 2 Best Bets for Spurs vs. Pelicans (Thursday, December 22) article feature image
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Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: CJ McCollum.

  • Action Network NBA experts Joe Dellera and Jim Turvey have two best bets for Thursday's NBA slate.
  • They are both eying props to go over in the Spurs vs. Pelicans matchup in New Orleans.
  • Check out their picks and analysis below.

The NBA features a tiny slate with only a pair of games on Thursday night, but our Action Network NBA analysts have still found two best bets for you to tail. They are both playing the San Antonio Spurs vs. New Orleans Pelicans matchup as Joe Dellera is backing CJ McCollum while Jim Turvey sees value on a Devin Vassell prop. Find their expert picks and predictions below for Thursday.

NBA Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Spurs vs. Pelicans CJ McCollum Assists
8 p.m. ET
Spurs vs. Pelicans Devin Vassell Points 
8 p.m. ET

San Antonio Spurs vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Pick
CJ McCollum Over 6.5 Assists
Book
DraftKings
Tipoff
8 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Joe Dellera: The Pelicans take on the Spurs today but will be without two of their best players. Zion Williamson is out due to the league’s health and safety protocols while Brandon Ingram remains out with a toe injury.

This changes the dynamics of the Pelicans’ offense as CJ McCollum takes on an even greater role. McCollum’s assists line is set at 6.5 or 7.5 depending on the book, and I think either is fine in this game. Although he has only averaged 5.8 assists on the season, this spikes to 8.0 without Williamson. He becomes the primary ball handler and facilitator in these spots for the Pelicans.

In five games without Williamson, he’s exceeded both 6.5 and 7.5 assists in four of them (8, 9, 9, 11), and his Assist Rate jumps to 31% compared to 23.5% on the season as a whole. This is a great opportunity for him in a matchup that features the seventh- (Spurs) and 11th- (Pelicans) fastest Paces in the league while the Spurs are dead last in Adjusted Defense. The Pelicans should not struggle to score, and McCollum will be the engine of this offense.


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San Antonio Spurs vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Pick
Devin Vassell Over 21.5 Points
Book
FanDuel
Tipoff
8 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Jim Turvey: Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson have an interesting dynamic as the two top scorers for the San Antonio Spurs this season. Both are promising young wings who can get a bucket and rank first and second on the team in scoring, with Johnson coming in at 21.1 points per game and Vassell at an even 20.0.

Each also scores far more when the other is out. This makes sense logically, but it is not nearly as clear cut with most situations like this in the NBA and can often lead to trap bets when the assumption is that the main scorer will see a big boost when the second-leading scorer is out, as well as the inverse.

However, it has held true for the Spurs this season, with Johnson seeing his points per game jump from 20.0 in games with Vassell to 25.6 in five games without Vassell.

More relevant to Thursday, however, with Keldon Johnson currently sporting a doubtful tag on the injury report, is that Vassell’s points per game have jumped from 19.4 to 27.5 in the two games without Johnson.

It’s an admittedly tiny sample, but the yin and yang of these two has proven true overall this season, and Thursday’s matchup comes against a Pelicans team without Brandon Ingram or Zion Williamson.

Consequently, a blowout is far less likely, meaning Vassell should likely see a full load of minutes. He has also averaged 25.5 points per game in the previous two matchups with the Pelicans this season, but that is being weighed far less in this final decision.

There isn’t a ton of wiggle room on this one, but I would take it to 21.5 (-125) or 22.5 at plus money.



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