James Harden and the Rockets meet up with Anthony Davis and the Pelicans. Who should we roll with when placing our final NBA picks for Friday night?
Though they're an even 16-16 on the year, the Pelicans are still being given a great chance by NBA odds makers for tonight's home date with the Rockets, who check in at 22-9 SU this season.
If we run over the totals on the NBA odds, we see this game has a posted O/U of 202.5. Houston may have been one of the most efficient defensive teams thus far, but New Orleans has struggled majorly in that department, thus the high number.
New Orleans Pelicans
Maddening inconsistency has plagued the Pelicans (and their backers) recently. They've alternated wins and losses over their previous eight games heading into tonight. During that span, they've earned impressive Ws over the Rockets, Spurs and Thunder, though they've then gone and lost to teams like Indiana, for instance.
New Orleans has been off since Wednesday's overtime loss to San Antonio. The Pelicans shot just 38.2 percent overall, with Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday combining to shoot 10-of-36 from the floor. Anthony Davis had 21 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and a block, with Evans, Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Jimmer Fredette all hitting double figures in the loss.
Overall though, there's no doubt New Orleans is on the right track. This is a franchise that won 21 games in 2011/12, 27 in 2012/13 and then went 34-48 last year. The Pelicans are well on their way to improving once again in 2014/15, and it of course helps when you've got a top five player in the NBA on your team in Anthony Davis. The guy has just been unreal.
The Rockets have hit a little snag of late, as they're 3-4 over their previous seven games overall. During this run they've beaten the Trail Blazers, Grizzlies and Hornets while losing to the Pelicans, Hawks, Spurs and Wizards. Overall they're at 22-9, which puts them just one game back of division-leading Memphis.
Their recent struggles all seemed to vanish, however, in Wednesday's easy win over Charlotte. James Harden was unstoppable, racking up 36 points, seven rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block while only turning the ball over once. It was a fantastic individual performance from the bearded one. Four other Rockets hit double figures, with the team hitting 17 threes (17-of-43) in the blowout victory.
As per usual when teams add a big piece to their rotation, it takes time to adjust, and that's what we've seen with Houston and Josh Smith. He seems to be settling in and has already stepped into the starting five as the power forward, so one would have to think the Rockets are only going to get better and better the more comfortable they get with Smith out on the court.
We can't wait to watch Harden and Davis go back and forth in this game. Both players should have big-time showings, but in the end we think Davis and the Pelicans hold the best NBA betting value on their shoulders.
Playing New Orleans on their home court has been a tricky proposition for opposing teams. Whereas they've gone 6-12 on the road, the Pelicans are a rock-solid 10-4 on their own floor so far this season. Plus, you know they're going to get up for this visit of one of the best teams in the NBA at this stage.
In this Southwest Division showdown, we look for Davis, and Holiday/Evans to a lesser extent, to guide New Orleans to the straight up win, which in turn makes them the preferred play as underdogs in spread betting. Back the Pelicans with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: New Orleans Pelicans +2 at 5Dimes