The last of the first round of play-in games features the New Orleans Pelicans hosting the San Antonio Spurs. This game is being played at 9:30PM ET on Wednesday, April 13th.
The Pelicans are currently 5 point favorites, with the over/under sitting at 229.
As far as all the first 4 play-in games go, this game probably has the least amount of juice. The winner of this game will most likely lose in their next game, and have a small chance of making any noise regardless.
The Pelicans come into this game with a 36-46 record, while the Spurs are at 34-48. These are the two worst teams in terms of record, by far, of all the 8 play-in teams. For context, the 9/10 seed matchup in the East is between the Hawks and the Hornets, and both those teams are over .500.
Starting off with the Pelicans, they aren’t actually as bad as their record suggests. They started the season horrifically, but have been perfectly average since that slow start.
They were 6-17 on December 1st, and have played pretty much .500 basketball since then. They also have looked like a better team since the CJ McCollum trade.
His first game with the Pelicans was on February 10th, and if you isolate the data from that date on- the Pelicans have the 10th best Net Rating in the NBA. Ahead of the 20-7 Mavericks, the 18-11 Raptors, and also ahead of the 18-10 Nuggets.
For whatever reason that improved play did not translate to actual Ws on the scoreboard. The Pelicans were just 14-14 in that stretch.
The main storyline surrounding the Pelicans all year, of course, was the mystery of Zion Williamson. He underwent surgery for a fractured right foot some time in the off-season, and has yet to make his return. His return date kept getting pushed back, before the Pelicans finally declared him out for the season.
It is understandable for the Pelicans to start slow with this circus surrounding the team, before settling in starting in December. Even without Zion, the Pelicans have some enticing talent on the roster.
McCollum, even with all his limitations, is still an extremely talented scorer. Of course, they still have Brandon Ingram. I also love young rookie Herb Jones, who flashed this season.
Overall, the Pelicans won’t make any real noise without Zion, but they at least have some other players to be excited about.
Unlike the Pelicans, the Spurs, meanwhile, did not test well in any sort of advanced analytics. Since that same February 10th timeline, the Spurs have a 14-13 record but are only rated 19th in the NBA in Net Rating. They benefitted from an easy schedule in which they played the Lakers and the Trail Blazers multiple times.
With that said, while they don’t quite have the high end talent the Pelicans do, the Spurs still have some intriguing pieces on their roster.
The most notable one is Dejounte Murray, who really took a step up this season. He ended the year averaging roughly 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists per game. The only stat in which he didn’t impress was his 3-point shooting, in which he only shot 32.7% from 3 this year.
Surrounding Murray they have Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson. Neither of whom are likely to be an all-star at any point in their career, but are still professional basketball players who can at least hang in an NBA game. They also have reliable big man Jakob Poeltl.
When looking to bet this game, while I do think the Pelicans win straight up, I’m more confident in this at least being a close game. So, I settled on taking the Spurs covering the spread as my pick.
I liked getting it at the +5.5 number above on BetMGM because every other book had this at Spurs +5- including the OddsJam Line. So, getting it at the better number, even if it’s only a half a point, still represents positive closing line value.
New Orleans Pelicans vs San Antonio Spurs Pick:
My official NBA betting pick for this game is to take the Spurs to cover the spread. I got this at +5.5 at -110 odds on BetMGM Sportsbook.
New Orleans Pelicans vs San Antonio Spurs Prediction:
My prediction for this game is that the Pelicans win 122-119.