Pelicans vs Thunder – NBA Pick for February 2nd
- Spread: Thunder -5 (-110)
Thursday was a relatively quiet night in the NBA, but we did get a late-night thriller between the Thunder and the Nuggets in Denver. Paul George drilled an incredible game-tying three in the game’s waning seconds, only for the Nuggets’ Gary Harris to come back on the next possession and can a game-winner of his own at the buzzer.
Following the heartbreaking loss, the Thunder will have to pick themselves up off the floor and play again tonight. They get to come back home, but they face a tough test going up against a Pelicans team battling for a playoff berth. Entering Friday’s action, New Orleans is a game ahead of the Nuggets for the No. 7 seed, and just 2 up on the Clippers, who currently sit 9th. The Thunder, meanwhile, is fifth, a half-game behind the Timberwolves.
The Pelicans suffered a huge blow a week ago today when DeMarcus Cousins ruptured his Achilles against the Rockets. Cousins is obviously out for the season, which has forced GM Dell Demps to scramble to find a replacement. The Pels made a big move on Thursday by acquiring stretch forward Nikola Mirotic from the Bulls. Mirotic is in the midst of a career year, as he’s averaging nearly 17 points and over 6 rebounds per game on blazing 42.9 percent shooting from three-point range. Mirotic saw a larger role in the Bulls’ offense this season, and the results showed. Mirotic won’t play tonight, but he could be in the lineup on Saturday when the Pelicans take on Minnesota.
New Orleans is reportedly also in pursuit of big man Greg Monroe, who is a free agent after being bought out by the Suns earlier this week. The Pelicans are reportedly among the frontrunners, though no deal has been announced as of yet.
For now, the New Orleans offense is going to keep running through the likes of Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. As you may expect, Davis has put up a couple of big games with Cousins sidelined. He went for 25-17-6 in a loss to the Clippers before hanging 23-13-5 with 6 blocks last time out against Sacramento.
Unfortunately, New Orleans is 0-2 without Cousins, and both losses are against teams currently out of the playoff picture. We knew they would struggle without Cousins, but losing to the Kings at home is something a playoff hopeful can’t afford.
OKC is playing the second night of a tough back-to-back, but they have clearly found a rhythm on the heels of their well-publicized early season struggles. Russell Westbrook’s defense has been miserable, but he still racked up 20 points with 21 assists in the loss last night.
The real story was the continued excellent play of George, who put 43 points on the board in Denver last night. He’s proven to be an excellent complementary piece to Westbrook, and here’s hoping he emerges as the Thunder’s No. 1 offensive option down the stretch. Westbrook can score, but George does so far more efficiently.
The Thunder have played excellent defense all season long, but their D took a huge hit when Andre Roberson was lost for the season over the weekend. This game has a massive total of 222 points, and with good reason. The Thunder just conceded 127 to Denver last night, while the Pelicans have been hemorrhaging points all season long.
With OKC playing for the second night in a row, it’s fair to wonder how their tired legs will affect their effort defensively. The Pelicans have been a team we’ve been targeting all year long on “over” bets, and tonight looks like another good opportunity.
Hit the over on 222 here tonight.
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