This Thursday, we have an interesting cross-conference matchup on tap as the Detroit Pistons head to the Big Easy to take on the New Orleans Pelicans, with both teams looking to build on some real positives from the first few games. Let’s dive right into our Pistons vs. Pelicans prediction, where the best bet is Pelicans -4.
Pistons Vs. Pelicans Prediction
It already feels like both teams are in the midseason grind, as they’re managing injuries and dealing with the taxing ordeal of a back-to-back. The Pelicans are coming back home after a huge road win, a 22-point comeback against the Thunder, while the Pistons played in Detroit on Wednesday as they fell to the Trail Blazers, although Cade Cunningham dropped 30 points for the second time this year.
Cunningham, Detroit’s former first overall pick is looking great to start his third season as he continues to steadily progress. He’s averaging 22.8 points and 6.8 assists while shooting 44.1% from downtown, and while of course there is a long way to go, all of those figures would be career highs if he keeps up his strong play.
Ausar Thompson, another highly touted youngster, is making waves in Detroit as well after he and his twin brother Amen made history on draft night itself by becoming the first brothers picked in the top five of the same draft. His overall numbers are modest, but Detroit fans are very excited with the comfortability he’s already shown in the NBA game, especially as he’s cracked the plateau of 15 points in each of his last two games.
Unfortunately, second-year Jalen Duren is out with an injury after also starting the season strong. Marvin Bagley III is a fine backup most of the time at 6’10”, even though he’s more of a true power forward, but he’ll struggle quite a bit against New Orleans, given the task of competing physically with a healthy Zion Williamson
Detroit is currently sitting at 2-3 with nice wins over the Bulls and Hornets, a very encouraging start after being one of the league’s worst teams last season, when they went 17-65. The Pelicans, after that big comeback are 3-1 to start the year, although their one loss was a really ugly 130-102 loss at home against the Warriors.
The Pelicans are going to be missing Brandon Ingram, which is of course a major loss and has created some serious line movement towards Detroit. However, in this specific matchup, the loss of Duren’s physical presence is a real problem, and New Orleans should be able to pull away just enough to cover the depressed spread.
I’d also consider the under, which is plummeting as well, but that number could be a good one to play as a live line. These teams are both in the second leg of a back to back, the first such game of the year for New Orleans, and while they could come out strong, the energy level and pace could definitely decrease as the game progresses.
Pistons Vs. Pelicans Prediction: Pelicans -4
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Pistons Vs. Pelicans Best Odds
The Pelicans are 4 point home favorites, down from around 7.5 after injury reports came out. New Orleans is sitting at -190 on the moneyline, compared to +158 for Detroit. The total is set at 216.5, with -110 odds on either side.
Pistons Starting Lineup
Pelicans Starting Lineup
Pistons Vs. Pelicans Injuries
The Pistons are already dealing with a few injuries, as Bogdan Bogdanovic, Jalen Duran, Isaiah Livers, and Monte Morris will all be out. For New Orleans, the biggest injury by far is Brandon Ingram, who will miss his third straight game has he recovers from right knee soreness.
Pistons Vs. Pelicans Key Matchups
Let’s focus on the guards in this one; we already know that Williamson should have a field day with Duran out, but he still can’t win this one all on his own, especially after playing a season-high 33 minutes against Oklahoma City just a day ago.
Veteran shooting guard CJ McCollum is off to a pretty good start to his age-32 season, highlighted by a big 29 point performance in the comeback against the Thunder. Given Detroit’s defensive backcourt options, he has the opportunity to have a really productive day.
On the other end of the floor, Cunningham absolutely has to be the offensive engine for the Pistons. That being said, he could struggle with the length of some of New Orleans’s defenders, and won’t be able to win on his own.
Luckily, he may not have to. Jaden Ivey and Alec Burks have been absolutely raining from three point range, especially Burks who is hitting 53.8% of his shots from range on 6.5 such attempts per game. Burks sat out the game against Portland, but could be ready to go for this one.
Overall, McCollum should be able to create plenty of offense in this one, and while Detroit has a few options, the questions around Burks’s health and the positional matchup for Cunningham are a couple of reasons I’m taking the Pelicans to cover a spread of -4.5 in my Pistons vs. Pelicans prediction.