Bet Pelicans +6.5 vs. Nuggets

Jason Lake

Sunday, December 15, 2013 1:51 PM GMT

Somebody forgot to tell the New Orleans Pelicans they couldn’t win without Anthony Davis. They’ll try to overcome the basketball odds and the Denver Nuggets Sunday at the Pepsi Center.

Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to December 12 inclusive:

22-22 ATS

5-5 Totals

If it seems like more and more professional athletes are getting injured these days, it’s not just your imagination. People are getting faster and stronger, they’ve got more and more time on their hands to devote to sports, and for the pros, the amount of money on the table just adds to the incentive to push their bodies to the limit. As a consequence, every sports betting fan these days should be paying very close attention to the injury reports. You just can’t get the job done otherwise.

That doesn’t mean you can simply auto-bet against a team that’s missing a key player – even an MVP-level guy like PF Anthony Davis. The New Orleans Pelicans lost their franchise cornerstone on Dec. 1 when Davis (28.4 PER) broke his left pinky finger. He’ll likely be out for another month or so, but that hasn’t stopped New Orleans from going 3-2 SU and ATS in his absence. Can the Pellies keep it up on Sunday (8:00 p.m. ET) when they visit the Denver Nuggets? The NBA odds have Denver laying 6.5 points with a total of 204.5.

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The Power of Brow

The 2012 NBA Draft class wasn’t the most heralded group of young players to join the league, but there was no debate about the first overall pick. Davis absolutely crushed it in his one-and-done season with the Kentucky Wildcats, posting 17.7 points, 13.0 rebounds and 5.8 blocks (!) per 40 minutes en route to the National Championship. Davis also won just about every individual award he was eligible for, including the Wooden Award for National Player of the Year.

He was ready for the NBA right out of the box, too. Davis was named to the All-Rookie First Team after putting up a 21.7 PER, better than Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge (20.5 PER) and not far behind Blake Griffin (22.4 PER) of the L.A. Clippers. One year later, and Davis is already the best power forward in the league, and second only to Miami’s LeBron James (28.9 PER) among all players on the PER charts.

Pro Basketball is Real

Imagine the Heat without James. Not a pleasant thought, unless you’re a hater. But the Pelicans (11-10 SU, 9-11-1 ATS) have gotten by thus far without their MVP. They have an outstanding “replacement” power forward in Ryan Anderson (21.2 PER), a sweet-shooting big who’s canning 45.3 percent of his trey attempts and leads the league in free-throw percentage at 97.4. That’s 38-of-39 from the line. We’ve had our eye on you for some time now, Mr. Anderson.

New Orleans also has to contend with the sprained ankle suffered by guard Tyreke Evans (16.6 PER) on Friday; Evans is listed as day-to-day and is uncertain to play Sunday. But again, the Pellies are well represented in the backcourt with guards Eric Gordon (17.0 PER) and Jrue Holiday (18.6 PER). The New Orleans bench is dwindling rapidly, though, so any team with reasonable depth should have a shot at beating these guys.

Keep on Digging

The Nuggets (13-9 SU, 11-11 ATS) are one of those teams. The medium-term prospects for this franchise may have dimmed with the departures of GM Masai Ujiri and head coach George Karl, but the cupboard in Denver is full for the moment – minus injured center JaVale McGee (tibia) and swingman Danilo Gallinari (knee), that is. The Nuggets have enough quality players to overcome those absences for now.

Having said that, Denver is 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS in its last five after putting together a nice seven-game winning streak. And the Nuggets are just 3-6 ATS at home this year, compared to 8-5 ATS away. So I’ll happily recommend the Pellies here as reasonably big road dogs. Woof woof.

NBA Pick: Take the Pelicans +6.5 (–107) at Pinnacle