It is coming down to the wire now, so for my NBA pick on the Plus Money Underdog as Sunday’s upset, I am taking the New Orleans Pelicans against the Houston Rockets.
Are You In or Out?
This is the question I am asking the Pelicans right now. They are sitting in the eighth slot in the brutal Western Conference and every game now is a must win for them. NBA odds makers have come out with Houston as a -4.5 favorite, but I think there is really solid value to take New Orleans on the plus money line. They have matched up well with Houston going 2-1 against them on the year and they just got Holiday back from injury to give them a boost. The Rockets are battling for the fifth slot in the Western Conference, but they are in the playoffs, win or lose. Just because the Pelicans are the more desperate team doesn’t necessitate a win (see Miami yesterday), but I like them to do just that and make the playoffs ahead of the Thunder.
On the Year
Statistically these teams match up well with Houston a bit ahead in the defensive categories. Defensively the Rockets have allowed 44.4% from the field compared to the Pelicans at 45.5%. Offensively New Orleans is the better shooting team on the year at 45.6% from the field compared to Houston at 44.2%. From beyond the arc New Orleans hold quite an advantage at 37% on the year compared to the Rockets at 34.8%, but this might have to do with the fact that Houston shoots more 3’s (leading the league) at over 30 per game average, the Pelicans average just below 20 per game. A good point to add here is that both teams defend the three very well (Houston ranked #1 and New Orleans #2 in defensive three point shooting percent allowed). These teams also are identical in assists per game with both averaging a bit above 22 per contest. Another point to take notice of is turnovers, because of Houston going up tempo they do average quite a few more turnovers per game at 16.8 (second worst in the league) compared to New Orleans at 13.4 (ranked seventh best in the NBA). There really is not a lot of disparity between the two teams, they are both pretty well coached, have an MVP candidate, and play good team basketball.
The Rockets just lost two in a row to the Spurs which is nothing to be ashamed about. The Pelicans just beat the Suns handedly after getting crushed by Memphis (it was a tough spot for them off a back to back). That game against the Grizzlies kind of skews how New Orleans has been playing recently because they just had a horrible night shooting around 35% from the field. It is also a bit skewed for the Rockets after losing twice to the Spurs. Defensively though in the last three games the Pelicans have been a bit better than the Rockets allowing 43.7% from the field against the Warriors, Grizzlies, and Suns compared to the Rockets at over 47% against the Thunder and Spurs twice.
Write ups and stats are fun to evaluate but sometimes I just have to look at the overall value. At really good money line odds I like taking the Pelicans for my NBA pick in this spot. They match up well with the Rockets, have played well against them this year, and come in believing they can win this game.
NBA Picks: New Orleans +195 at Pinnacle