Spurs vs. Pelicans Betting Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions: How Zion Williamson Will Impact the Spread, Over/Under
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Zion Williamson (1) of the New Orleans Pelicans and DeMar DeRozan of the San Antonio Spurs.
- The updated odds for tonight's Spurs vs. Pelicans matchup (9:30 p.m. ET) have the Pelicans as 3.5-point favorites in Zion Williamson's NBA debut.
- Check out our complete breakdown of the game, including betting trends, a recommended pick and a prop bet.
Spurs at Pelicans Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions
- Spread: Pelicans -3.5
- Over/Under: 236
- Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: ESPN
Odds as of Wednesday afternoon and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Finally, Zion Williamson will play real minutes in a real NBA game!
He is set to make his debut in front of the home fans in New Orleans against the San Antonio Spurs. He joins a Pelicans squad in the midst of an impressive turnaround after a brutal 6-22 start to the season. What impact will Zion have on tonight’s matchup?
Our NBA crew previews every angle of the game including how they plan to bet the No. 1 pick’s debut.
Betting Trend to Know
New year, new team is apparently the theme down in New Orleans and it’s not just because they Pelicans are welcoming back Zion Williamson tonight. In the month of January, the Pelicans are the second-highest scoring team in the NBA after ranking 11th this season prior to 2020.
So far this month, the Pels are 9-1 to the over, the most profitable team in the NBA in January — a $100 dollar bettor would be up $744. The only game in that stretch that didn’t go over (against the Grizzlies on Monday) closed as high as 242.5. — Malik Smith
Bryan Mears: Can the Spurs Slow Down the Pelicans?
It’s scary to take the under on a Pelicans game given how fast they’ve played and how good their offense has been over the past month, but I think that’s currently the sharp side.
One reason is the likely return of Derrick Favors, who improves this defense significantly. Admittedly, the data isn’t fully there to support that claim, as it’s been about the same with him on the floor vs. off. Part of that, however, is the solid bench play of Jaxson Hayes, who plays against bench units.
Favors has been a smart defender in his career, and there’s some data to back that up even this season. With him on the floor, the Pelicans have allowed much fewer shots at the rim, which is really what he can control as a big man in their defense.
The big issue with his metrics have been that opponents have hit more 3s with him out there, and I’m always hesitant to put that blame on a center rather than the perimeter players.
Further, it’s possible the return of Williamson actually helps the defense. He had some issues in high school and at points in college on that end, but the upside is clearly there. When he’s engaged — and we’ve had a ton of precedence (see: Ben Simmons) of players really dialing it in when they reach the pros — he’s a force, capable of covering the floor as a free safety.
The Pelicans have really struggled with help rotations and Zion, just through sheer athleticism, should help with that. Of course, that’s the biggest question with Zion tonight and in the near future: He’s coming off 44 games missed due to knee surgery. This wasn’t a wrist injury or something where he could still keep his legs in shape and maintain that athleticism.
Will that come back right away or will it take a bit to shake off the rust of sitting on the bench for months?
And finally, you could make the argument the Pels have been a bit unlucky defensively of late. Since Jan. 1 they’ve allowed the third-fewest shots classified as wide-open (a good thing), but opponents have posted the highest eFG% on such attempts (awful). That should normalize over time.
Of course, the Spurs have been very up and down defensively of late, too, and it’s more difficult to blame that solely on poor luck (although that’s part of it). But one thing the Spurs do very well is limiting transition opportunities, which is how the Pels thrive on offense. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Spurs force opponents into halfcourt sets 81.9% of the time, the highest rate in the league.
Matt Moore: Zion’s Debut Brings Value Elsewhere
I’m really tempted to just yell “ZION!” over and over again. I broke down how he could impact the X’s and O’s for the Pelicans, but it’s all conjecture until we actually see him.
Instead, let me turn you to this delicious morsel: under head coach Alvin Gentry, the Pelicans are 10-6 ATS vs. Gregg Popovich, including 3-0 as the favorite. That’s one of the best success rates for any coach in the league against Pop.
The total is too high for me to play, but I lean toward the over up to 237. When both teams have both offensive and defensive efficiencies over 107 (great offenses, terrible defenses), the over is 14-10 this season, and 7-3 when the total is over 230. That’s a departure from historical trends, which lends itself to the idea that we’re in an outlier scoring year.
The other bet I’d go in for? Lonzo Ball’s over/under for assists, which is 5.5. Our FantasyLabs player prop tool rates this prop as a 10 out of 10 tonight. With the addition of Williamson as a lob threat (even with Jrue Holiday back), I like the over on that prop along with the Pelicans spread. — Matt Moore
The Top Spurs-Pelicans Prop Bet
THE PICK: Under 5.5 rebounds (-106)
I’m probably most bearish on his rebounding numbers tonight. Williamson averaged 6.5 rebounds per game during the preseason, but he did that over an average of 27.3 minutes per game.
He’s not expected to see as many minutes tonight, so I think it’s reasonable to expect fewer rebounds tonight. Zion played fewer than 27 minutes in two of his four preseason games, and he grabbed five rebounds or fewer in both contests.
The Spurs are also an average matchup from a rebounding perspective. They rank middle of the pack for both team rebounding rate and pace, and they also rank seventh in offensive efficiency. That combination shouldn’t result in a ton of opportunities on the defensive glass.
I would really prefer if this number got to 6.0 or 6.5, but there’s some value on the under at the current number. That said, I wouldn’t play it at greater than -110 odds.
For more Zion props, you can read today’s daily player props article here.
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.