If you asked most basketball fans who the top teams are in the Western Conference, the most common answer would be the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. They would be half correct. The Denver Nuggets are sitting in second in the conference and don’t seem to be generating much buzz. This is an extremely deep and young team and it’s not as if their start is a fluke. Denver was the second seed in the playoffs last season. Taking on the New Orleans Pelicans, who are second to last in the West, the Nuggets are a prohibitive favorite.
Nuggets vs. Pelicans spread, over/under, money line
Spread: Nuggets (-9.5)
Money line: Pelicans (+390), Nuggets (-500)
I can’t help but think the NBA booked this matchup because they thought it would be a great spot to feature Zion Williamson to a national audience. Instead, the Pelicans appear lottery bounce yet again and Zion is yet to make his NBA debut. Still recovering from preseason knee surgery, Williamson doesn’t have a timetable to return. There is still a superstar in this game, but he’s an unassuming one. Nikola Jokic is one of the league’s most talented centers and he’s starting to turn it on after a slow start to the season. By the looks of him coming into the season, Jokic did not appear to be in top shape. He looked heavier than we have ever seen him and it seems like his dropped some weight as the season has progressed. As a results, he’s been a force in the last couple weeks. The Serbian center is back on track and the Nuggets need to be taken seriously as a contender. The Pelicans have often struggled to stay competitive in games this season, leading me to believe that Denver should run away with this game.
Prediction: Nuggets 119, Pelicans 105
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