Today's Free Picks for
Posted 10:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
New Orleans -3 -103 over New York
Streaming: NBA TV
7:00 PM EST. We love the Pelicans this year for many reasons that most NBA fans probably already know about. Not only did this team show great potential on both sides of the ball last season, despite not having Zion Williamson around all year and despite constant other injuries to key players like Brandon Ingram, the Pels were still a play-in team and formidable contender against the Western Conference. Last year's campaign was also more of a storming/forming kind of year, due to new roster additions (CJ McCollum) and a new coach working on rotations that work. This year, we expect the Pels to pounce.
New Orleans opened up with a statement win against the Grizzlies on the road, shooting out of their minds (47% from the floor, 43% from beyond the arc) and playing high-energy, suffocating defense all game. Zion Williamson immediately looked like the game-breaking player he was at Duke, slam-dunking and facilitating an offense that just looks different when he's in the lineup. They boast a starting-five that's going to be difficult for any defense to limit. Brandon Ingram's a long, ace-shooter, Jonas Valanciunas' is a physical force in the front court, Herbert Jones is a Swiss-army knife and lock-down defender, and CJ McCollum is the old wily vet that plays with a steady hand and no ego. Even without Zion this is a dangerous group; with Zion's size and ability it's almost unfair.
The Knicks are coming off a nice win Friday night, on the road against the Hawks. As usual, Jalen Brunson took on the brunt of NYK's offensive load, scoring 31 points on 21 shots. New York's big-men are struggling to find success down low, posting only 64 points in two games in the painted area. For season's on end, Tom Thibodeau's wanted a team that was blue-collar, tougher, a team that attacks the paint at will - but inconsistent confidence from Julius Randle and RJ Barrett make their offense hard to predict. And tonight they're running into a buzzsaw. No part of this game, scoring or defending, will be easy for a visiting team that played just 21 hours earlier.
It's worth noting that the Pels are missing some key depth pieces tonight. Jose Alvarado, the pesky, high-energy guard, and Trey Murphy III remain out. Regardless, New Orleans' starting-five presented an energy and tenacity on opening night that we love. Tired teams like the Knicks, who have struggled to find consistency on either side of the court for the last few seasons, are not a good match for a surging young team like the Pels, especially after just competing less than one full day ago. This is a hammer spot for the Pels, who remain at home in a comfortable spot, and the line is way too low given the circumstances.
New Orleans -3 -103 (Risking 2.06 units - To Win: 2.00)