When the New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs slug it out on Sunday in Orlando, both their playoff hopes very much hang in the balance.
San Antonio is only a half-game ahead of NOLA in the West standings, as both are hoping to climb at least up to the No. 9 seed. Portland sits there now, but the Suns and Spurs are within a half-game, and the Pels are just one back.
Get ready for this high-stakes showdown with abe Insights' betting preview, where you can find incisive analysis of how wagers should trend, advanced stats that should be considered and the best odds available to help maximize your payouts.
Date: Sunday, August 9
Time: 3 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Spurs 43%; Pelicans 59%
Spread: NO -3
Moneyline: SA +130; NO -145
Pelicans phenom Zion Williamson sat out the last contest for rest, which was a gutsy move for a team in the thick of the postseason race, yet it paid off. New Orleans managed to keep pace thanks to a 118-107 victory over the shorthanded Wizards.
One critical absence for San Antonio will be shooting guard Bryn Forbes. He's been the Spurs' most efficient high-volume 3-point marksman (38.8% on six attempts per contest), yet hasn't been able to see any action in the bubble due to a quad injury.
15.6 vs. 12.1: New Orleans has the NBA's second-highest turnover percentage in 2019-20, whereas the Spurs have the league's lowest. There's plenty of flash and excitement around Zion and Co., but coach Gregg Popovich's squad is as fundamentally sound and disciplined as ever in this department.
80.9 vs. 72.6: If this contest is tight and comes down to the foul line, San Antonio may have a big edge, should the season's trends hold. The Spurs have the second-best free throw percentage in the NBA, while the Pelicans are 29th out of 30 teams.
37.2 vs. 28.5: These final stats are simply the amount of 3-pointers each squad attempts per game. New Orleans likes to hoist it far more from beyond the arc, and as a team, the Pels shoot 37.1%, which is close to the Spurs' clip of 37.4%.
There's clearly more upside and high-end talent on the Pelicans roster, yet they're facing one of the best coaches of all-time in Popovich. He's lost all the franchise cornerstones from his numerous championship teams, yet he's adapting with the players he has to stay relevant in the loaded Western Conference.
Other than guard Patty Mills, the Spurs don't really have anyone with championship experience to help them in these sorts of games, which was essentially a given in the past. It's also difficult to build a contender in the modern NBA when your best players tend to specialize in long 2-point shots. Talking to you, DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge.
But credit Aldridge for expanding his shooting faculties, as he's shooting 38.9% from beyond the arc on three attempts per game. DeRozan is also a master of the mid-range J, shooting 52.7% from the floor to compensate for his lack of trey ball.
While the Numbers to Know favor San Antonio in a lot of ways, there's not enough dynamic athletes on the Spurs roster to fully account for Zion, Brandon Ingram and Jrue Holiday. Williamson in particular offers exceptional proficiency from 2-point range, and provided the Pels play him enough minutes, he should have a monster performance.
It's going to be a fast-paced affair with Lonzo Ball as the catalyst for New Orleans' offense and the Spurs having a deep stable of guards to keep things moving. But that point total is super high even considering how efficient both these offenses are, so expect to see wagers favor the Under.
The one-possession spread is essentially splitting hairs. It's really hard to nail a bet like that, so whichever team bettors choose for the moneyline, it's probably worth just doubling down on the same squad rather than hedging.
Public sentiment and team popularity — aka sentiment bias — can actually play a factor in how much action one side or the other gets. Because of the Zion mystique and Popovich-Spurs fatigue, look for the majority of bets to go on both the Pelicans spread and moneyline.
Note: Odds current as of 8:55 a.m. ET on Sunday, August 9.
Back to top