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Pelicans at Nuggets Expert Pick and Prediction – January 31, 2023

Pelicans at Nuggets Expert Pick and Prediction - January 31, 2023

PELICANS AT NUGGETS EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION - JANUARY 31, 2023  - The New Orleans Pelicans (26-25) travel to Denver to face the Nuggets (34-16) in our Tuesday toddy.

The Pelicans are owners of an eight game losing streak after superstar, Zion Williamson, was sidelined with an ankle injury. New Orleans is coming off a 25-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in which Giannis Antetokounmpo went off for 50 points. After a promising start for a stuttering franchise, nothing is going right in New Orleans.

The Nuggets come into tonight's game on a two-game losing streak that include a loss to the Bucks (107-99) and the 76ers (126-119). Aside from those two losses, the Nuggets have been playing spectacular basketball. They're 7-3 in their last ten games Reigning MVP, Nikola Jokic, is averaging 25.1 PPG, 10.9 RPG, and 9.8 APG, but he has been seeing limited time lately.

Jokic dropped 25 against the 76ers on Saturday, but he was bested by Joel Embiid, who went for 47.

I wrote about the Pelicans' losing streak last week and we faded them in favor of a Wizards team on the upswing. Let's see what we can with these teams tonight.

The Odds



















When: Tuesday, January 31st at 10:00 pm EST

Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO


Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of January 31st, 2023

New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans are entering the worst stretch of their season. The eight game losing streak continues to demonstrate how important Zion Williamson is to the team. The absence of Zion puts too much pressure on CJ McCollum to produce. It also allows teams to be more aggressive when Jonas Valanciunas has the ball, because they don't have two big men to worry about.


Much of the Pelicans' problems have occurred during a particularly bad stretch of poor health for the team. That will change tonight, as both CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram will be on the floor in Denver.

The Pelicans have missed Ingram, who can open up the floor and take some of the pressure off McCollum. Ingram had a terrific season against the Nuggets last year, averaging 25 PPG against the NBA MVP. Look for Ingram to be aggressive in this game and attack Denver. New Orleans knows its back is against the wall and the teams should be happy to have Ingram in good health.

Bad Offense

The offensive numbers over the last 5 games for the Pelicans have been atrocious. They are averaging 101.8 PPG (3oth) and 103.1 points scored per 100 possessions. In their loss to the Bucks on Sunday night, PG Jose Alvarado led the team with 18 points and 6 assists. McCollum got the night off in that game, which explains the absence of a leading scorer.

Efficient Defense

The defensive numbers are a little better for New Orleans. Over the last five games, the Pelicans have allowed 111.6 PPG (12th) and 112.7 points per 100 possessions (11th). Larry Nance, Jr. has done a nice job on the glass. He grabbed 12 rebounds against the Bucks and can be a reliable presence on defense.

Tough Breaks

The Pelicans are also coming off their 3rd game in 4 days and the numbers don't look favorable for them in that stretch. They've played 5 games with this much rest and their winning percentage sits at 40%.

Their numbers on the road don't give Pelicans fans much hope, either. New Orleans is 9-16 on the road this season and they are walking into a hostile environment against one of the best teams in the league with their 3rd game played in 4 days.

Given the losing streak, New Orleans is in desperate need of some serious rest and an easier schedule.

Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets will be riding Jokic at home against a hobbled Pelicans team that is in the midst of a frightening losing streak. This looks like an easy game to handicap, but there are some underlying issues that we need to look at before making the pick.


The Nuggets will not be in full force tonight, as they are dealing with a multiplicity of injuries. Jamal Murray (left knee) is questionable for the game, while Colin Gillespie (right lower leg) and Jack White (lower abductor) are out.

Jokic has been playing sporadic minutes and, facing a team like the Pelicans (without Williamson), we could see his minutes limited. Without Murray and full minutes from Jokic, the Nuggets may not be as dominant tonight as they have been over the month of January.

Offense Wins Championships?

If offense wins championships, then the Nuggets are screwed. They have been a middling offensive team over their last 5 games, averaging 110 PPG (24th) and 114.1 points per 100 possession (19th).

Most of their offensive production comes from Murray and Jokic. In order for the Nuggets to put together a strong offensive game plan, they will need to find production from role players like Michael Porter, Jr. and Aaron Gordon.

Defend the Rim

Denver has been a very solid defensive team over their last five games. The Nuggets are allowing 108.6 PPG (4th) and 112.7 PPG per 100 possessions (10th) during the stretch.

Over their last three games, the Nuggets are forcing an average of 16.7 turnovers per game. They can be suffocating on defense and play at a relatively slow pace. All of this could be bad news for the Pelicans, who are struggling to find offensive production.


The Nuggets are lucky to be coming off a little more rest than the Pelicans.

Denver has been strong off of two days of rest, winning 66% of their games. Denver also touts 22-4 record at home; however, they are 13-10-1 ATS as a home favorite.

I trust the margin against the spread more than the straight up winning percentage, because Denver is often a big favorite at home and many of these games are closer than they seem.

The Pick

This is a deceiving game because the Pelicans are owners of an eight game losing streak and the Nuggets boast the best record in the Western Conference. Beware the square. Don't lay the points. The Pelicans should be reinvigorated with Ingram back in the starting lineup and the Nuggets are dealing with some injuries of their own.

I'm not sure I trust the Pelicans enough to cover the spread, either. Their offensive efficiency has been bad lately and the Nuggets are going to play defense regardless of who's on the floor.

This is why I like the UNDER here. Both teams have been playing reliable defense and the points total isn't low enough to erase all value. I might suggest a little sprinkle on Brandon Ingram OVER 20.5 points (-130) as well. We should see production out of him tonight in the Mile High City.

Jack's Pick

UNDER 231 Total Points

Brandon Ingram OVER 20.5 points (-130)

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