Wizards vs. Pelicans Expert Pick and Prediction – January 28, 2023
WIZARDS VS. PELICANS EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – JANUARY 28 2023- The Washington Wizards (22-26) travel to Smoothie King Center to face the New Orleans Pelicans (26-23) on Saturday in a terribly fun game with great value.
I gave out some Wizards gold earlier this week, so figured I would run it back with Washington once again for a little wager encore.
The Wizards have won four straight, including impressive wins over the New York Knicks (116-105) and the Dallas Mavericks (127-126). The recent trade that sent Rui Hachimura to the Lakers in return for Kendrick Nunn has seemed to reenergize this Wizards team. They have been fun to watch lately and they come into Saturday as 4.5 underdogs against a skidding Pelicans team.
The Pelicans are struggling to find a rhythm without Zion Williamson. The New Orleans big man has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since early January. New Orleans has lost six straight games and 10 of their last 12. The Pelicans’ strength of schedule has been relatively tough (Miami, Cleveland, Boston, Denver), but the streak also includes losses to the Timberwolves and Magic.
Clearly New Orleans misses Zion, but can the Wizards continue their hot streak or will the Pels step up and win a game? Let’s get to the pick.
When: Saturday, January 28th at 8:00 pm EST
Where: Smoothie King Arena, New Orleans, LA
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of January 27th, 2023
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The Wizards have been playing impressive basketball without their big man, Kristaps Porzingis, who is dealing with an ankle injury. Porzingis is listed as doubtful for this game and I don’t expect him to play. The Wizards have been finding production in unlikely places and won’t feel the need to rush Porzingis.
Kyle Kuzma has been filling some of the void left by Porzingis. Kuzma erupted for 33 points and 9 rebounds against the Rockets on Wednesday night. He shot just below 50% from the field and hit five threes in the win.
Bradley Beal continues to contribute to the offensive production as well. He had 17 points and shot 41% from the field. The newly acquired Nunn came off the bench and logged 22 minutes and 12 points.
Washington has been utilizing Deni Avdija off the bench for some size while Porzingis is out, but the addition of Nunn has allowed the Wizards to play smaller, allowing more opportunities for a mismatch off of a switch and an open shot. I expect to see more of this against the Pelicans tomorrow.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans can’t seem to find answers since the loss of Williamson earlier this month. C.J. McCollum is still playing at a high level, averaging 21.2 PPG and 5.8 APG. McCollum is a workhorse for New Orleans. He’s played in 44 games this years and averages 35 minutes per game.
The Pelicans haven’t been able to find much help for McCollum while Williams gets healthy. Jonas Valanciunas leads the team in with 9.9 RPG, but he isn’t much of a scoring threat without Williamson on the floor.
Valanciunas benefits from Williamson, because Zion will draw the help defender and allow Valanciunas to get open and create plays. Without Zion, Valanciunas’ playmaking ability vastly decreases. The Pelicans can’t create easy buckets with this lineup and much of the role players are neutralized without Zion.
We haven’t seen much from Herb Jones or Larry Nance, Jr. this season either. Good teams can focus on taking McCollum out of the game and challenge some of the New Orleans role players to beat them. So far that strategy has worked.
Washington is 22-23-3 ATS this season. The Wizards are 10-10-3 ATS with equal rest, 10-10-2 ATS as an away underdog, and 5-7 ATS with 2-3 days rest. None of these trends tell much of a narrative, but the Wizards have been hot lately and are benefitting from some large spreads.
The most promising trend for the Wizards is their away record ATS (13-11-2). They play fairly well on the road and the Smoothie King Center doesn’t exactly intimidate many platers.
New Orleans is 26-23 ATS this season and 9-8 ATS as the home favorite. The Pelicans are 14-13 ATS with equal rest, 10-11 ATS in non-conference games, and 4-5 ATS with 2-3 days off. New Orleans likes to play at home. They’re 14-11 ATS as the home team, but much of these trends cannot control for the loss of Williamson.
The spread for this game is too large for two teams without their best players on equal days rest. The Wizards match up well with the Pelicans in terms of efficiency and the Wizards are coming into New Orleans with one of the NBA’s most impressive winning streaks.
New Orleans has been horrible in their last five games. The Pelicans rank dead last in offensive efficiency (104.1), 19th in defensive efficiency (115), and 29th in efficiency differential (-10.8)
Meanwhile, the Wizards have been one of the most efficient teams through their last five games. They’re 6th in offensive efficiency (122.1) and 4th in efficiency differential (5.7). They still leave much to be desired on defense, where they rank 15th in defensive efficiency (116.4) through their last five games.
Neither of these teams are playing great defense and only one team (the Wizards) is playing well on offense. The oddsmakers are giving us a gift with a 4.5 spread.
The Pelicans have been so bad without Zion that I’m willing to take the points with the Wizards here. Consider the OVER 232.5 points as well. Neither team has much interest in playing defense.