New York had an ugly season-opener against the championship-favorite Boston Celtics, but the Knicks still almost pulled out the win. Now, the Knicks will hit the road and travel to New Orleans for a battle with the Pelicans, a team that will be missing three key rotation pieces: Trey Murphy III, Jose Alvarado, and Naji Marshall.
Still, New Orleans has plenty of firepower and defense at its disposal for this matchup. Can the Pels better their record to 2-0 in their first home game of the season? Take a look at our prediction for the spread, moneyline, and point total below, as well as our best bets for the game!
New York Knicks Vs. New Orleans Pelicans Prediction
New Orleans had a statement game on the road against last year’s No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies, winning by seven points, but leading by double-digits for most of the second half. The Pelicans spread their scoring well, with all five starters finishing with at least 12 points. The Pels looked great on the defensive glass, pulling down 41 boards and only allowing eight offensive rebounds.
Herb Jones, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Jonas Valanciunas, and Larry Nance all brought in seven or more rebounds, showcasing terrific team-rebounding and boxout discipline. This should fare well against the Knicks, who have historically (second in offensive rebounding percentage last season) loved to crash the O-Glass.
Meanwhile, New York wasted no time in avenging its heartbreaking home loss to the Celtics by taking down the Atlanta Hawks on the road. After struggling to generate offensive momentum against Boston (37.1% shooting from the field), the Knicks were able to flip the script in their second game of the season, shooting 48% from the floor and 46% from deep in a six-point win. However, the Knicks were also the beneficiary of another poor shooting night from Trae Young, who went 4-16 from the floor for just 18 points.
Either way, the Pelicans match up extraordinarily well with New York; they can cross-defend by putting C.J. McCollum on Quentin Grimes and Herb Jones on Jalen Brunson. Further, Brandon Ingram can guard R.J. Barrett. It is an ideal situation for the Pels’ starters.
Unfortunately, any lead created by their starters will probably be chipped away by a far superior Knicks bench, making significant separation a challenge. Let’s roll with the Pels to win, but the Knicks to keep it to a single-score game by the final horn.
Best NBA Betting Promo Codes
New York Knicks Vs. New Orleans Pelicans Best Odds
The New Orleans Pelicans (-162) are favored by 3.5 points at home against New York (+136) for this non-conference matchup. The point total rests at 225.5 points for the game, with -110 odds on either side.
New York Knicks Starting Lineup
New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineup
New York Knicks Vs New Orleans Pelicans Injuries
Another season, another struggle with the injury bug for the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pels will be without Jose Alvarado (ankle), Trey Murphy III (knee), and Naji Marshall (knee) for their second game of the 2023-24 regular season. Alvarado and Marshall will be back in the next few weeks, while it will be a few months before Murphy can return to the lineup.
Meanwhile, the New York Knicks will be fully healthy heading into this Saturday’s matchup against New Orleans.
New York Knicks Vs. New Orleans Pelicans Key Matchups
Zion Williamson vs. Julius Randle
The two strongest left-handed power forwards in the NBA will go toe-to-toe on Saturday. Zion and Julius Randle are similar players in size, stature, and offensive play style, with the major exception being that Randle shoots three-pointers consistently, and Zion is a high-flier.
This matchup heavily influences our New York Knicks vs. New Orleans Pelicans prediction, as these are two of the best players on the floor. It has been two and a half years since the last time Williamson and Randle played against each other; they faced off twice in one week in 2021 but have not seen one another since.
Randle averaged 32.5 points, 7.5 assists, and 6.5 rebounds on a 41/44/93 shooting split in those two games, while Zion posted 29.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and six assists on close to 55% shooting from the field.
While Zion did not quite look as dominant as he has in the past in the Pels’ first game, he still put together a 23-point, seven-rebound night on 53% shooting from the field. And that was against Xavier Tillman (who just defended Nikola Jokic as well as anyone in the NBA has over the past few seasons), David Roddy, and reigning DPOY Jaren Jackson Jr.
Meanwhile, Randle has struggled, looking a bit out of sorts in his first two games. We expect Randle to snap out of it eventually, but Williamson should have a lot of success in this matchup, especially since the Knicks will be on the second night of a back-to-back. Advantage: Zion.