Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:30 PM EST.
NEW ORLEANS -8 -101 over Oklahoma City
8:05 PM EST. A well-balanced three-game week is a rare and beautiful thing for any team this season and the Pelicans are in the middle of one here. An added bonus is that New Orleans play all three games at home, and have actually been there since January 1. The team should have a chance to get into something approaching a stable routine. On Monday, the Pels lost a game they should have won, 118-116 in overtime against a quality Pacers’ team. Late-game management doomed the Pelicans in that one but now they get a couple of solid spots to close out the week. Up first, is a bounce-back opportunity against the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder also played on Monday, but had to travel from Miami after being blown out 118-90.
The early days of the Stan Van Gundy Era have been solid for New Orleans. The new boss is preaching a physical, hard-nosed brand of play, one which seeks to dominate the paint, and slow things down somewhat in a high-paced league. The Pelicans have had some growing pains, but a 4-3 start is just fine. New Orleans also ranks first in the NBA with a rebounding rate of 54.8%. The Thunder rank 21st at 48.5%. These two teams faced each other in late December, and the Pelicans bruising style of play was too much for the Thunder, who were out-rebounded 65-49 – and outscored 113-80. New Orleans dominated the paint and two-point area in that first encounter while the Thunder scored only 15 two-point field goals. Most encouragingly for the Pelicans, the team was able to dominate while only getting 12 points and 17 minutes from Zion Williamson, who should be a matchup nightmare in this spot for the Thunder. Van Gundy has been tough and honest toward his new players so far this year, and should have them plenty focused after a disappointing loss.
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NEW ORLEANS -8 -101 (Risking 2.02 units - To Win: 2.00)