New Orleans Pelicans vs. Denver Nuggets: Predictions, Starting Lineups (1/12/24)

The New Orleans Pelicans (23-15) encounter the Denver Nuggets (26-13) this Friday (1/12/24). Get Pelicans vs. Nuggets moneyline and spread odds, as well as predictions, starting lineups, injuries, and key matchups below.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Denver Nuggets Prediction

Per, Denver’s hyper-elite starting lineup has outscored opponents by 14.6 points per 100 possessions across 136 minutes this season. They face a rolling Pelicans squad that has a few exploitable warts.

Jonas Valanciunas struggles mightily to defend in isolation, so New Orleans must help inside. They give up the most open plus wide open three-point attempts per game because it strains their perimeter defense, which does not bode well for them here. Michael Porter Jr, Jamal Murray, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope combine to shoot a 40.4 3PT% on roughly 16 attempts per game. Denver’s spacing along with Jokic’s interior scoring likely breaks this slow Pelicans defense.

On the other hand, few frontcourts are better equipped to handle New Orleans. Aaron Gordon possesses the strength to go toe-to-toe with Zion Williamson, while Nikola Jokic is an immovable object. Michael Porter Jr’s immense length is also a necessity against Brandon Ingram’s fadeaways and midrange game.

Meanwhile, Caldwell-Pope is a quality defender who can make CJ McCollum work for his shots. Finally, Denver can hide Jamal Murray on offensive liability Herb Jones.

Overall, the Nuggets are healthier, more talented, and more cohesive. Plus, they own home-court advantage, which is a significant edge given the altitude.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Denver Nuggets Prediction: Nuggets 1st Quarter Moneyline & Nuggets 1st Quarter -2.5

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New Orleans Pelicans vs. Denver Nuggets Best Odds

Despite the Pelicans leading the league in Net Rating over the past 15 games, the Nuggets are six point favorites. Denver is 10-8-1 against the spread at home, while New Orleans is 10-6-1 against the spread on the road.

For the Pelicans’ +205 moneyline to be profitable in the long run, they need to win here at least 33 percent of the time.

New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineup

PG: CJ McCollum
SG: Herb Jones
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Zion Williamson
C: Jonas Valanciunas

Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup

PG: Jamal Murray
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Michael Porter Jr
PF: Aaron Gordon
C: Nikola Jokic

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Denver Nuggets Injuries

Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, CJ McCollum, and Trey Murphy III are all expected to play, but Matt Ryan remains out. On the other side, Denver will lack Julian Strawther and Vlatko Cancar.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Denver Nuggets Key Matchups

Michael Porter Jr. Three-Point Shooting

Given New Orleans’ three-point defense woes, “MPJ” is in prime position to capitalize. Over his past ten games, the 6’10” sharpshooter has shot a 42.2 3PT% on 6.4 attempts per game. If he can convert his opportunities, then it will be extremely difficult for New Orleans to keep pace. It’s worth noting that the Pelicans surrender the third most made threes per game to small forwards.

Herb Jones vs. Jamal Murray

Jones is one of the best defenders in the league who routinely limits top scorers. He will get the Jamal Murray assignment, which is not an enviable task. Murray averages 20.5 points on excellent 47/41/89 shooting splits and has the tools to play on or off-ball. It’s imperative that Jones prevents Murray from getting red-hot here.

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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