New Orleans Pelicans vs. Washington Wizards: Predictions, Starting Lineups (12/13/23)

The New Orleans Pelicans (15-7) meet the woeful Washington Wizards (2-21) this Wednesday (12/14/23). Get Pelicans vs. Wizards moneyline and spread odds, as well as predictions, starting lineups, injuries, and key matchups below.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Washington Wizards Prediction

The Pelicans are outscoring opponents by 7.9 points per 100 possessions during the first quarter, which ranks sixth best (via NBA.com). On the other hand, Washington is being outscored 11.6 points per 100 possessions – 26th in the NBA. The trends indicate a strong opening performance from New Orleans, but the matchup also spins the same tale.

Daniel Gafford and Mike Muscala form an extremely poor rim protection duo that cannot stop a runny nose, and Washington’s guards fail to deter drivers from penetrating the paint. The Wizards’ abysmal defense is subsequently surrendering the third most restricted area field goal attempts per game and the second largest restricted area field goal percentage. They cannot rebound either (29th in opponent offensive rebound rate), which only inflames the issue.

New Orleans owns the third largest restricted area field goal percentage and the seventh largest put-back frequency. Jonas Valanciunas and Zion Williamson will both have a field day against this Wizards frontcourt, especially with Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum drawing plenty of defensive attention.

Defensively, there are concerning foundational problems for New Orleans. They struggle to protect the basket, and opponents average the second most open plus wide open three-point attempts per 100 possessions. Can Washington’s offense do enough though? They are 23rd in Offensive Rating and 23rd in 3PT%. Herb Jones remains a All-Defensive First Team candidate that will blanket Jordan Poole, and the lineup lacks self-creation beyond Kyle Kuzma.

Overall, New Orleans’ offense should feast against a Wizards defense that ranks dead last in half-court defense (per ShotQuality). Washington will put up respectable numbers, but it likely won’t be enough to keep this within two points at the end of the first quarter.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Washington Wizards Prediction: 1st Quarter Pelicans -2.5 & Moneyline

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New Orleans Pelicans vs. Washington Wizards Best Odds

The visiting Pelicans are 7.5 point favorites here. It’s worth noting that they rank sixth against the spread with a 60.9 cover percentage, while Washington is 16th against the spread. The Wizards must win this game about 27.8 percent of the time for their +260 moneyline to be profitable in the long run.

New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineup

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

Washington Wizards Starting Lineup

PG: Tyus Jones
SG: Jordan Poole
SF: Deni Avdija
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: Daniel Gafford

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Washington Wizards Injuries

Zion Williamson is managing an ankle sprain, but he’s trending in the right direction to suit up. However, Larry Nance Jr. and Matt Ryan will be sidelined. The Wizards are without Landry Shamet, Delon Wright, Johnny Davis, Eugene Omoruyi, and Ryan Rollins. Plus, Daniel Gafford is questionable.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Washington Wizards Key Matchups

Pace of Play

Per ShotQuality, Washington is 11th in transition offense and 22nd in half-court offense. Therefore, it behooves New Orleans to slow down the game and force Washington to execute without the benefit of defensive chaos. The Pelicans can help accomplish this feat through their offensive rebounding and put-backs because it vaporizes outlet passes and allows the defense to get set. Therefore, Williamson and Valanciunas’ dominance on the glass will be a key factor here.

Jordan Poole Turnovers

Of the 63 players (min. 400 minutes) averaging at least two turnovers per game, Poole is 51st in assists per game. The only guards below him are Jalen Green, Jalen Suggs, and Klay Thompson. Herb Jones is a defensive monster with long arms and quick hands, so he can force plenty of turnovers. Poole needs to take care of the ball and inject caution into his game tonight, or New Orleans will steal possessions.

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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