Pelicans-Thunder Betting Guide: Time to Buy Low on New Orleans?

Pelicans-Thunder Betting Guide: Time to Buy Low on New Orleans? article feature image
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Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Anthony Davis

Betting odds: New Orleans Pelicans at Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Spread: Thunder -4
  • Over/Under: 237
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: NBA TV

>> All odds as of 11 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets


The New Orleans Pelicans, reeling from a five-game losing streak against tough competition, will try to get back on track tonight in Oklahoma City against the Thunder, who are on a four-game winning streak.

Will the public be on the Thunder given the recent play of both squads? Or is it a good time to buy the Pels? Our analysts are here to discuss.


Locky: My Thoughts on Thunder -4


In a vacuum, a spread of Thunder -4 makes a whole lot of sense. The teams are pretty even (as long as Russell Westbrook is playing) and the Thunder are playing at home.

From a schedule and momentum standpoint, though, with New Orleans on the fifth game of a road trip (in which it’s 0-4), and with the Thunder having won four in a row, at first glance it would seem tough to back New Orleans at such a small number.

The Pelicans have particularly struggled replacing point guard Elfrid Payton, who is close to returning. Tim Frazier and Wesley Johnson have each started recently, and neither has been effective. None of this is a secret, and the winning/losing streaks are incredibly public information. The Thunder are probably going to receive public betting support.

I’m very interested in whether this can be a turning point for New Orleans, though. Because one thing I did see after its last loss, which I did not see previously, was frustration finally out in public.

Coach Alvin Gentry and Anthony Davis both pulled no punches in their postgame comments, being incredibly open and negative, and the AP recap story (perhaps the most public of all) made mention of Gentry shouting at his team in the locker room and how it was audible from the outside.

From both the public perception of the team and their frustration level, this sure feels like rock bottom, and that may make the Pelicans worth buying here.

It’s also interesting that Anthony Davis, although still nursing an elbow injury, completely torched Oklahoma City last year, averaging just under 35 points per game in three contests. A plus matchup for him after facing such great teams on this trip (Warriors, Spurs, Nuggets and Blazers) would be seemingly of great relief.

I wish I was getting a little more line value here given the directions of both teams in the last week, and with a completely healthy Davis I think I’d be more inclined to bet the Pelicans. At just +4, I’ll call it a lean and look for a better spot. — Ken Barkley


Mears: Elfrid Payton, MVP?

Elfrid Payton, much maligned throughout his career, has interesting splits in his first season in New Orleans.

But first, some context: Last year in Orlando, the team was 6.2 points per 100 possessions worse with him on the floor versus off; that’s in the 21st percentile of all players. With Phoenix, the Suns were 17.0 points/100 worse with him on versus off; that was in the second percentile of all players. He was terrible last year.

This season? The Pelicans have been a whopping 16.4 points/100 better with him on versus off, which is in the 91st percentile of players. That’s like MVP level value. So, what gives?

I believe this is a lesson in small sample size. He’s been out for a good chunk of the Pelicans’ recent poor play, and thus his on/off numbers are impressive. But diving into their five-game losing streak, a lot of it is poor defensive play and some bad shooting luck.

First, their schedule has been brutal: They lost at home to a good Jazz squad and then dropped four road games against the Nuggets, Warriors, Blazers and Spurs. Struggling defensively makes sense given that context, and more broadly I’m skeptical that a point guard can really affect a defense in that way. Payton has defensive upside, but I’m of the belief that scheme, wings and rim protectors are like 90% of a team’s defense.

And on the shooting side, over the last five games, the Pelicans have posted a terrible effective field goal rate of 48.9% on “wide open shots” — classified by NBA.com as having a defender over six feet away. They’re at 49.1% on open shots — a defender 4-6 feet away. That suggests some poor luck, and I don’t think that Payton, a career 30.1% three-point shooter, has that much to do with that.

As Locky mentioned, it’s possible the Thunder will get public support today. Thunder -4 is probably a decent line, but if it balloons further than that due to the Pels’ losing streak, there’s likely some value on New Orleans. — Bryan Mears


Betting Trends to Know

OKC has won four straight; New Orleans has lost five in a row. Since 2005, teams that have won four or more games in a row are 142-164-6 (46%) ATS when facing an opponent that has lost four or more consecutive games. — John Ewing

Russell Westbrook against Anthony Davis. Two of the most electric stars in the NBA. Since 2015, the two superstars have faced each other 11 times, and Westbrook has been absolutely absurd:

  • 32.9 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 10.5 APG (7-4 SU and ATS)
  • Five consecutive triple-doubles (six in his last seven games vs. Davis)
  • Five 40-point games

The Pelicans close out the fifth game of their road trip against the Thunder in Oklahoma City. New Orleans has lost the first four games of the road trip, including five in a row dating back to a home loss before the road trip started.

In their last three road games, the Pelicans have lost by 14, 13 and 10 points, for an average loss margin of 12.3 points. Since 2005, teams that have lost three consecutive road games by an average of double digits and have then played their next game on the road have gone 156-116-10 ATS (57.4%), profiting bettors 32.1 units. — Evan Abrams


Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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