Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:00 PM EST. Odds subject to change.
San Antonio +8 -107 over New Orleans
8:10 PM EST. Lately the Pelicans haven't been at their best. Although off a solid road win against the Rockets on Wednesday, New Orleans can't seem to beat an above-average outfit these days. Their schedule certainly hasn't helped. Last week they played three of the best teams in the NBA in just four days and proceeded to get throttled in every contest. Injuries to Zion Williamson and Herbert Jones haven't helped their continuity, but that's hardly an excuse. New Orleans has one of the deepest rosters of any NBA team, with plenty of exceptional two-way players to step up when a starter is out. More than halfway through the season they sit in 7th place in the West, surely a disappointing result for the franchise and its fans. The Pels only have four wins the last three weeks, and every victory came against a team with significant injuries or in horrid spots. We're not impressed.
Of course, we've never really seen sustained success from New Orleans. Although a talented group, they don't have a true star. Zion is reluctant, Brandon Ingram is a quiet sharpshooter, and CJ McCollum is a wily veteran past his prime. No superstar means an absence of consistent leadership and team chemistry, and we see that often from a Pelicans’ team that's struggling to reach its potential.
The Spurs are heading in the opposite direction. Recent changes made by coach Gregg Popovich have brought the best out of their roster, starting with their star. Victor Wembanyama is officially their center, released from a power forward position that never looked like a natural fit earlier this season. All of Wembanyama's stats have improved since the switch, and he leads the NBA with 3.9 blocks per game. The rookie has established himself as one of the league's premiere defenders already, and he's scored 24 points or more in four of his last five starts. Tre Jones has been given a larger role as their starting point guard, and that's done wonders for the team. The trio of Jones, Wembanyama, and Devin Vassell is beating their opponents by 20 points per 100 possessions, by far the best mark in the association. The Spurs are figuring things out, and they seem to be enjoying the process. A Gregg Popovich-coached team having fun and playing with moxie? That's a dangerous proposition for any team.
Still, the Spurs can be hard to trust. They know they're not winning an NBA title this year, so maybe the motivation to win isn't always there, but right now San Antonio is playing with a ton of confidence while looking like an entirely different team. The Pelicans finally got a win on their long and challenging road trip but tonight is their 5th game in 7 days and the last stop before they can finally go home and see their families before heading back out on another four-game road trip. The Pels are in a risky spot tonight, one where they could easily let down and lose, while the Spurs continue to play with house money at home. Only one side has value in these cases, and it's the pooch.
San Antonio +8 -107 (Risking 2.14 units - To Win: 2.00)