Pelicans vs. Jazz Odds & Picks: Recent History Says Back the Home Favorite
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Donovan Mitchell.
- The Utah Jazz host the New Orleans Pelicans in the second leg of a two-game series in Salt Lake City.
- With a game in the books to learn from and two squads with opposite trajectories, Nick Alfano sees value on a side in this one.
- Check out Alfano's full preview and betting pick for Pelicans-Jazz below.
Pelicans vs. Jazz Odds
|Moneyline||+205 / -250|
|Time||10:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday night and via DraftKings.|
Thursday’s NBA schedule is light, featuring only three games. Two of these matchups are nationally televised, one of which is the New Orleans Pelicans visiting the Utah Jazz in the second leg of a two-game series.
Funny how the only game that is not nationally televised on Thursday, Knicks vs. Warriors, includes the two most valuable NBA franchises according to Sportico. But that’s an analysis for another day…
The Jazz bested the Pelicans, 118-102, on Tuesday night, propelled by 28 points from Donovan Mitchell and a dominant third-quarter performance. Overall, Utah has won six straight and four by double digits, while the Pelicans have dropped six of seven, winning only one game in 2021.
New Orleans needs to get its early season defensive swagger back. I’m willing to bet that won’t happen in Salt Lake City.
New Orleans Pelicans
If this is where New Orleans has settled as a team, Pelicans fans should be concerned.
After a strong first week, their only glimpse of hope has been Zion Williamson playing at an All-Star level. Outside of that, it’s not pretty.
In his first year with the team, Stan Van Gundy wants to emphasize defense, yet New Orleans ranks 21st in Defensive Rating (110.7) and 29th in that same category since January 1, per NBA Advanced Stats. The only team with a worse Defensive Rating since New Year’s is Sacramento, who is on pace to be one of the worst defenses in the history of the NBA. And no, that is not hyperbole.
Since January 1, per NBA Advanced Stats, the Pelicans rank 25th in Opponent Points off Turnovers and are one of five teams with a Net Rating of -5 or worse.
Not to mention, they also rank 27th in Opponent 3-Point Percentage (39.6%) in 2021 and the Jazz happen to lead the league in Percent of Points from 3-Pointers (44.6%).
New Orleans does not match up well here. Maybe they’ll put on a show for the national television audience?
This Utah team is scary in a good way.
First off, they’re a defensive juggernaut. Prior to Wednesday’s NBA slate, the Jazz rank sixth in Defensive Rating (106.4) and they hold opponents to the lowest Effective Field Goal Percentage in the league at 49.7%, (NBA Advanced Stats).
This team doesn’t foul, either. Utah has the NBA’s lowest Opponent Free Throw Attempted Rate at .189 (NBA Advanced Stats). Defensive discipline will be immensely important against New Orleans, who has the fifth-highest Free Throw Attempt Rate in the league.
What’s miraculous about the Jazz is they are dead last in Opponent Turnover Percentage. They just hold teams down by staying in front and challenging shots.
A casual fan may be able to guess that with Rudy Gobert guarding the paint, the Jazz would naturally be a strong team, based on defense. That’s fair, but their offense is dominant, too.
Utah ranks eighth in Offensive Rating (112.4) and fifth in Effective Field Goal Percentage (55.9%). Additionally, they crash the glass every night and have the NBA’s fourth-best Offensive Rebounding Percentage (29.7%) (NBA Advanced Stats).
The Jazz are rolling, and one or two more wins in a row will have the national media paying attention. Good thing I already am.
In my eyes, Mike Conley is the key to Utah’s long-term success, and he’s been unstoppable this year. Of all players averaging 15 minutes or more per game, Conley ranks 10th in plus/minus, 14th in Defensive Rating, and he’s shooting over 40% from beyond the arc (NBA Advanced Stats).
Conley only scored 6 points against New Orleans on Tuesday, but can contribute in many of other ways. If you are prop hunting, look at the over on Conley’s assists. He had 10 last time out, and New Orleans cannot defend the 3-point line. He’ll dish to shooters all night.
As of Wednesday evening, there are only two teams in the NBA who are top-10 in both Offensive and Defensive Rating. The Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers. That raised my eyebrows.
In my high school Government and Politics class, my teacher would always say, “One thing about history… it repeats itself.”
With a modest spread, I’m going to follow recent history and take the Jazz. They’ll cruise to another double-digit victory in this one.
Pick: Jazz -6.5, up to -7.5.