When: 10/31/2019 at 9:30 ET
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, La
Point Spread: Denver Nuggets -2.5
Betting Total: 222.5

Two Western Conference playoff hopefuls take the court Thursday night in New Orleans. The Denver Nuggets have looked every bit the part of a contender so far.  Meanwhile the Pelicans have seen injuries and poor defense delay their flight plans. 

Denver may see fatigue set in due to this being their third game in four days, and starting a road trip. Their last outing saw the first defeat of the year for the Nuggets at the hands of Luka Doncic and the Mavs. New Orleans has started the year off with a tough schedule that has seen them drop close contests in each of their matchups so far. If they hope to get back into the playoff picture then stepping up and defeating one of the best teams in the western conference would be a great way to establish yourself in the young season. 

Nuggets go with the Joker for Halloween

Nikola Jokic is the battery that powers Denver on both sides of the ball. His size and ability to switch onto smaller defenders has helped this defensive unit hold opponents to under 102 points per game. All the while averaging 15.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 6.5 assists on the other end of the floor. The joker really is one of the most underrated big men in the game. 

Jamal Murray’s struggles shooting the ball thus far is a big factor in Denver’s slow start to the year offensively. He is shooting just over 31% from deep, which is a significant step down from where he was a year ago.

Same Faces, New Places for the Pelicans

With Derrick Favors and Jrue Holiday listed as doubtful for the game and Zion out for several weeks, others have been forced to step up. Most notably the trio of former lakers, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball. Ingram has looked every bit the potential all star that many thought he could become. After averaging 27 points and 9.5 assists per game, he looks to be settling into his new role just fine. Hart and Lonzo’s ability to move the ball in transition is key to why they rank in the top ten in the league in pace and points per game. Not to mention spreading the ball around with a league best 30.8 assists per game.

Defense is what has kept New Orleans from winning games early in the season. Jahlil Okafor and rookie Jaxson Hayes will have a tremendous task as the only active frontcourt members for the Pelicans. New Orleans is already allowing 128 points per game when healthy, which is currently the worst in the league. 

WagerWeb has the Denver Nuggets favored by 2.5 over the Pelicans. The total has not been set at the time of writing. 

Both of these teams had playoff aspirations to start the year, but New Orleans doesnt have nearly enough healthy players to compete with one of the deepest units in Denver. Jokic will more than likely feast off of a banged up frontcourt for the pelicans. Murray could finally bounce back from his shooting woes after signs of life in his last game. Denver will have no problem taking care of the pelicans and will earn the road victory, which is always tough to earn in the NBA. 

Knup Sports Free Pick: Denver Nuggets -2.5