Betting odds: New Orleans Pelicans at Houston Rockets
- Spread: Rockets -8
- Over/Under: 232
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN
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The marquee matchup of the NBA’s first big slate of the season features the reigning MVP, James Harden, against a hopeful one in Anthony Davis. Can the Pelicans cover at home with a new point guard? Will the new-look Rockets come out hot? Our experts weigh in.
The Pelicans Need to Modernize Their Offense
In the two final games between these squads last season (the ones without DeMarcus Cousins), the Rockets took 88 three-pointers. Yes, that number is correct. The Pelicans, meanwhile, took just 45.
That’s obviously a massive difference, and it existed even with the Pelicans playing a stretch 4 in Nikola Mirotic alongside the excellent-shooting Davis.
And that’s the scary part of taking the Pelicans against the spread, even if you think that these teams aren’t that far apart in talent.
The Pelicans have almost no room for error from an efficiency standpoint because of that shot discrepancy, and when the Rockets have an edge in the paint, too, the game just doesn’t set up well for New Orleans.
In the final game last season, the Pelicans went 14-of-27 (51.9%) at the rim; the Rockets went 22-of-26 (84.6%).
These two teams will play fast — New Orleans ranked first last season in pace and it has played just as quickly in the preseason — but pace doesn’t equal offensive efficiency.
That’s especially concerning this season with non-shooter Elfrid Payton starting at point guard and initiating the offense. I’m high on Davis and the Pelicans this season, but this will be an interesting test of how modern they can make their offense to keep up with the super-modern Rockets. — Bryan Mears