San Antonio Spurs vs New Orleans Pelicans: Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds (12/22/22)

As we near NBA on Christmas day we are given a lackluster slate for our Thursday viewing pleasure. Only two games in store for today with one of them being the laughable San Antonio Spurs against the Zion-less New Orleans Pelicans. Laughable as the Spurs have made it apparent that they are in full tank mode for a better chance at the coveted number one spot. Can the Pelicans take care of business without their scoring leader?

San Antonio Spurs vs New Orleans Pelicans Betting Odds

Oddsmakers are fully confident in the Pelicans ability to handle business, opening them up to as high as -10. Zion’s news was already baked into the number, as well as bettors thinking otherwise by taking the Spurs down to +8.5 as of writing. This is a curious spot as the Pelicans still have weapons that are more than capable of stepping up in Zion’s absence like CJ McCollum.

As for the total, oddsmakers had this as a neutral scoring affair by opening the number at 230.5. Zion being ruled out makes this total very interesting as it is a double-edged sword. While on one hand we are missing his scoring prowess, but on the other hand he has been a terrible on ball defender with lackadaisical defense that has resulted in teams attacking him.

San Antonio Spurs vs New Orleans Pelicans Prediction

The Pick: Pass / potential live under

With a big chunk of the Pelican’s identity missing, this game is currently a pass for me. Although I do want to see how this is played out early as this may be a live under opportunity. It can’t be overstated how dominant Zion has been as of late, potentially sneaking in as an early MVP candidate for one of the Western Conference’s best teams. 

Yet he has been a liability on defense, showing little to no interest when on ball defending which would have played nicely to the over as the Spurs can use any scoring help that they can get.

I have yet to even mention the continuation of the absence of Brandon Ingram. A reliable scoring threat for the Pelicans, sitting out of this one as well. Ingram has come into his own as a top young NBA talent but has battled injuries all season and will be out another two games for the Pelicans with a toe bruise.

While missing two top end talents would sit nicely for the under, I just can’t put my hard-earned dollars on the variables that this game now possesses. I will monitor it early to see how the Pelicans backups fare against the Spurs. If they get out fast and provide high quality scoring chances early, I may hit a live under as the Spurs’ adjustments should slow them down late in the game.

Betting Trends

  • Under is 4-0 in Pelicans last four games on two days rest
  • Under is 8-2 in last 10 Spurs games coming off of a win by more than 10 points

Key Matchups

While the Pelicans are without two of their top scorers, how will the Spurs offense fare in this one?

Spurs scoring production vs Pelicans defense

It’s no secret that the Spurs are one of the worst teams in the NBA this season and a majority of that is because of their lack of scoring. They constantly look like they have no offensive identity, forcing scoring situations into low quality looks.

They are also without leading scorer Keldon Johnson, relying on young guard Devin Vassell to carry the brunt of scoring. He picks up a tough assignment with McCollum hounding him, forcing the Spurs secondary to beat them which has proven to be unreliable.

Until the Spurs role players can step up as reliable scorers, then I fail to see how the Spurs can maintain any sort of scoring pace that the opposition sets on them.

Verdict

I will be passing on this game while monitoring for a live under opportunity with so much uncertainty leading to tipoff.

San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup

PG: Tre Jones
SG: Devin Vassell
SF: Doug McDermott
PF: Jeremy Sochan
C: Jakob Poeltl

(Team Callout)

New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineups

PG: CJ McCollum
SG: Dyson Daniels
SF: Herbert Jones
PF: Naji Marshall
C: Jonas Valanciunas

(Team Callout)

Key Injuries

San Antonio Spurs Injuries: Romeo Langford (P), Keldon Johnson (O), Jakob Poeltl (P)

New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson (O), Brandon Ingram (O), Larry Nance Jr (D)

Kody is a sports betting writer here at Lineups. He specializes in college sports as well as the NFL and NBA. He won’t quit believing in the Lions Super Bowl chances even when they are eliminated.

Hot NBA Stories