Just as they lost one of their best players to a hamstring injury this week, the Nets are preparing for the triumphant return of another superstar. Kevin Durant is expected to suit up for Brooklyn, which could be bad news for the Pelicans, who haven’t always felt like playing defense this season. Will the Nets continue rolling, seamlessly reintegrating KD into the lineup? Or, will the Pelicans pick up a huge win on the road and continue their march back up the Western Conference standings? We’ll tell you where to look at SBR’s top-rated sportsbooks.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Brooklyn Nets
Wednesday, April 07, 2021 – 07:30 PM EDT at Barclays Center
It seems everything will be against New Orleans on Wednesday. Not only do the Pelicans have to battle the red-hot Nets, they’ll have to battle a team that’s gotten even stronger with the return of Kevin Durant. On top of all that, they’re going to be dead tired on the second night of a back-to-back. Without any rest this year, the Pels have gone 3-6 straight up, and just 4-5 against the spread.
New Orleans will be less than 24 hours removed from its loss in Atlanta, meaning it will be fighting fatigue in addition to the pain of traveling some three hours north. It wasn’t exactly a happy flight, either, coming off a 16-point loss, one where the Pelicans were tied at the half. New Orleans had its doors blown off in the third, getting outscored 46-29, before mustering up just 17 points in the fourth quarter.
Though the Pelicans did the usual and out-rebounded their opponent (by seven this time around), their three-point shooting was atrocious, hitting on just 31.6% attempts. Shooting was one of the things that was driving this team when they were rolling just a couple of weeks ago, but it’s fallen off significantly of late. That’s due in part to so many injuries for New Orleans.
The Pelicans will be without Brandon Ingram (foot), Kira Lewis Jr. (calf), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (ankle) and Josh Hart (thumb) once again, dealing a serious blow to their depth and their offense, in particular. Ingram is one of their best shooters, and Alexander-Walker had been shining in the wake of injuries to New Orleans’ starters before he, too, went down. The injuries could very well be the deciding factor between a good game and a blowout.
It’s hard to say the Nets have missed Kevin Durant, given the fact that they’ve lost just three games since the beginning of March, but it shouldn’t go understated the impact he’s had on this team. With all the offensive firepower that Brooklyn has been able to produce after Durant went down, it’s still scored 5.8 more points per 100 possessions with KD on the floor this season, posting an insane 120.8 offensive rating. Defensively, too, he’s added three points per 100 possessions, making his net impact 9.8 points. That’s a lot! Especially when you think about the fact that no one’s been able to beat the Nets lately. It’s scary to think about how good this team will be once they get Durant back up to speed.
It’s important to note here that, while the Nets will add Durant back to the lineup on Wednesday, they won’t have James Harden, who is dealing with a hamstring injury and will miss at least 10 days. That’s perfectly OK, considering they have Joe Harris and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot backing him up, who have been superb off the bench.
Despite all the wins lately, the Nets have covered in just one of its last seven games. Now, we’re being asked to lay 10 points with them. Considering the underrated strength of some of those teams they failed to cover against, like Minnesota, and some narrow misses, I’m willing to give them a pass. On paper, this shouldn’t even be a matchup that New Orleans comes close to winning, especially without any of its scorers. The Pelicans should hold an advantage down low with their tenacious rebounding, but as we saw against the Hawks, that’s not going to be enough. Now they’re playing tired, and against a much more complete offense and one that’s adding KD? For my NBA pick, sign me up for Brooklyn.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.