BETTING PREVIEW & PICKS:
Utah Jazz 28-12 (21-18-1 ATS) are playing New Orleans Pelicans 15-26 (20-20-1 ATS) on Jan 16, 2020, 8:05pm ET at Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans opened at +4.5 in Vegas and the current line is NOP +4.5.
The New Orleans Pelicans face the tough task of trying to take down the surging Utah Jazz at the Smoothie King center in Utah Thursday night. Since losing on the road to the Miami Heat, the Jazz have responded by winning their last 10 games, including a recent 118-107 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Meanwhile, the injured Pelicans have somehow managed to win three of their last four games. They recently handed the Detroit Pistons a 117-110 road loss and look to have found a star in Brandon Ingram.
It seems that the acquisition of Jordan Clarkson has given the team a new spark. His ability to generate his own offense on the second unit gives them the sort of scoring depth they desperately needed to have a better shot at competing with the best teams in the Western Conference. He added 13 points off the bench in Tuesday’s 118-107 win over the Nets. Even though the teams ongoing 10-game win streak hasn’t included a lot of teams with winning records, it is still a testament to how well they are playing.
The Jazz offense is averaging 118.0 points in their last three games and look to be shooting at a bigger basket at times. Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic have been a terrifying scoring duo that has a knack for turning games into nightmares for opposing coaches. The Jazz also remain one of the best teams in the league on the defensive end of the floor. Their eighth-ranked defense is only allowing a 44.2 field goal shooting percentage on the road. It could prove to be a serious problem for the Pelicans’ 20th-ranked offense.
Injuries have been the story of the season for the Pelicans. They’re a young team with plenty of upside, but they have been robbed of seeing it come together due to a tough run of bad injury luck. Rookie star forward Zion Williamson will make his debut later this season due to a lingering knee injury. Brandon Ingram, Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick and Derrick Favors were also sidelined for Monday’s run-in with the Detroit Pistons. They should have a few of those guys back for this one but it is still tough to overcome. They’ll have no choice considering how bad they’ve been on defense. Utah’s red-hot offense is going to put tremendous pressure on them throughout the game but they might consider trying to slow down the game inside. Regardless they are going to have to put the clamps down on defense to have a shot in this one as they don't have the firepower to put up big time scoring numbers
BETTING PREVIEW & PICKS:
There is simply too much to overcome for the Pelicans here. I do think they will be a great team once they get everyone healthy but for now they are a hobbled version of that upside. Give me the Jazz to roll for their 11th straight win. Jazz -4.5:
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Okafor (back) has been ruled out for Thursday's game against the Jazz, Will Guillory of The Athletic reports. ANALYSIS Okafor was originally deemed probable due to a back injury, but his status apparently took a turn for the worse prior to Thursday's matchup. With Okafor unavailable, Derrick Favors and Jaxson Hayes should handle the majority of minutes at center.
Zion is not making his debut tonight, Williams & Jrue out, JJ & Ingram questionable. Jazz won 7 of the last 10 H2H's. Jazz is on a 10 game winning streak.
Pelicans scored an avg of 119 & allowed an avg of 109 on their last 5 at home. Jazz scored an avg of 117 & allowed an avg of 108 on their last 5 on the road. Jazz is 10-6 SU & 9-7 ATS on the road after a win. Pelicans are 3-2 SU & 5-0 ATS at home after a win.
Last year, teams feared Utah because of their stout defense. This year, teams fear Utah because of both their defense & offense. Jazz has been playing like a solid top 5 offensive team lately which I'm sure is leaving a lot of people baffled. You could make a case for the Pels here as they seem to have finally found their footing but with the way Jazz has been playing, it would be dumb not to back em.