The Denver Nuggets (9-2) travel to face the New Orleans Pelicans (5-6) this Friday (11/17/23). Get Nuggets vs. Pelicans moneyline and spread odds, as well as predictions, starting lineups, injuries, and key matchups below.
Denver Nuggets vs. New Orleans Pelicans Prediction
I am going back to the well and taking Denver’s first quarter moneyline, which has hit in nine of eleven games. Nikola Jokic is typically subbed out with just under two minutes left, so it essentially avoids the non-Jokic minutes and their shaky bench. The Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr, Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Jokic lineup is currently outscoring opponents by a massive 33.3 points per 100 possessions across 117 minutes (a decent sample).
New Orleans ranked 29th in rim defensive field goal percentage versus expected last year per Basketball Index and allowed the largest opponent restricted area field goal percentage. Nothing has changed, as Jonas Valanciunas remains a completely ineffective rim protector and is primarily responsible for New Orleans bleeding the fifth most points per game to centers. Over the past seven matchups since Valanciunas joined the Pelicans, Jokic has averaged 32.6 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 11 assists on astonishing 70/42/76 shooting splits. The reigning Finals MVP should absolutely feast in this matchup.
Meanwhile, the Pelicans are surrendering the second most pace adjusted open plus wide open three-point attempts. Caldwell-Pope and Porter Jr will demolish New Orleans should they double Jokic, while Gordon’s aerial threats keep New Orleans’ defense guessing. Finally, Herb Jones and Dyson Daniels’ perimeter on-ball defensive talents won’t be as effective as usual here because Denver’s offense flows from Jokic.
Defensively, Denver has the personnel to slow down New Orleans. Aaron Gordon is one of the few forwards in the NBA with the strength to handle Zion Williamson. Denver can sag inside to protect the paint too because Dyson Daniels (35.3 3PT%) and Herb Jones (29.6 3PT%) are inconsistent shooters. Meanwhile, Ingram’s typical length advantage is nullified against Porter Jr.
Overall, Denver’s offense can ruthlessly exploit New Orleans’ defense to a much higher degree than vice versa. Backing the Nuggets to once again win the first quarter is the best bet here.
Denver Nuggets vs. New Orleans Pelicans Prediction: Nuggets 1st Quarter Moneyline
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Denver Nuggets vs. New Orleans Pelicans Best Odds
The visiting Nuggets haven’t missed a beat with Jamal Murray sidelined, and they enter this contest as 5.5 point favorites. For New Orleans’ +170 moneyline to be profitable in the long run, they need to win about 37 percent of the time. It’s worth noting that Denver is 7-3 against New Orleans in their last ten matchups.
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup
New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineup
Denver Nuggets vs. New Orleans Pelicans Injuries
Jamal Murray and Vlatko Cancar remain out for the Nuggets, while CJ McCollum, Trey Murphy III, and Larry Nance Jr hold the same designation for New Orleans. In addition, Jose Alvarado is doubtful to make his season debut.
Denver Nuggets vs. New Orleans Pelicans Key Matchups
Jordan Hawkins 3PT Shooting
The rookie sharpshooter entered the draft known for his three-point shooting, which helped UConn win the national championship. He’s coming off a breakout performance against Dallas where he produced 25 points on 5/12 from three. If Hawkins can come into the game off the bench and knock down a few threes, then New Orleans’ chances improve drastically; they have to take advantage of the roughly minute and a half that Jokic sits.