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Denver Nuggets vs New Orleans Pelicans: Match Preview and Predictions - 31st October 2019

Jason Mills
ANALYST
Preview
30 Oct 2019, 19:27 IST

Action from Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans
Action from Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans match

Match details

Fixture: Denver Nuggets vs New Orleans Pelicans

Date and time: Thursday, October 31st 2019, 9:30 p.m. E.T.

Venue: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA.

Last game results

Denver Nuggets (3-1): 106-109 loss to the Dallas Mavericks (October 29th, 2019)

New Orleans Pelicans (0-4): 123-134 loss to the Golden State Warriors (October 28th, 2019)


Match overview

There have been 58 NBA regular-season games between the Denver Nuggets and the New Orleans Pelicans, 33 of which have been won by the Nuggets. The 59th match in this NBA Western Conference series takes place Thursday night in New Orleans. After suffering what seemed like a demoralizing, franchise-killing off-season in which star center Anthony Davis was traded away, the return hasn’t been any better for them. 

Just two seasons ago, the Pelicans were a playoff team losing in the second round to the Golden State Warriors. Last season was miserable for Pelican fans whose beloved team managed just 33 wins. This season did not turn out any better with first-round draft pick Zion Williamson not being able to contribute to the Pelicans efforts for a couple of months due to a knee injury.

The Denver Nuggets, conversely, have started 3-1. It is a strong start for a team that finished 2nd overall in the West a season ago. Featuring a young core of talent led by the likes of Canadian guard Jamal Murray and center Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets aspire to be among the top 4 in the West this season as well. 


Key players

Nikola Jokic can make a lot of difference
Nikola Jokic can make a lot of difference
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Nuggets - Nikola Jokic

Nikola Jokic is a key contributor to the success of Denver Nuggets. He has already recorded two triple-doubles and a double-double in 4 starts to begin this season. Jokic, a 24-year-old center in his 5th season, is averaging 15.5ppg, 12.5rpg, and 6.5apg. Jokic is the second-leading scorer on the Nuggets roster behind Jamal Murray’s 18.8ppg. In the 2018/19 season, Jokic recorded 14 regular-season triple-doubles. 

In his last start, which ended in a 106-109 loss to the Mavericks on Tuesday night, Jokic scored 10 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and distributed 10 assists. It is also remarkable that as a center, Jokic is a premier passer and averages 5.2apg for his career.

Pelicans - Brandon Ingram

It's early in the 2019/20 season but Brandon Ingram seems to be finally realizing his talent. One of several players cast away by the Lakers in the Anthony Davis deal, Ingram has long been consistently inconsistent. Ingram has improved every year over his first 3 seasons in the NBA and 4 games into the new season, he is already averaging 27.3ppg, 9.5rpg, and 4.8apg. 

It is also positively remarkable that not only is he averaging 9 points and 4.4rpg more than last season, but he is doing it in a similar amount of playing time. In 2018/19, Ingram received 33.8mpg from the Lakers and right now the Pelicans are playing him 34mpg. Perhaps the only difference is he was not a one or two scoring option for the Lakers whereas the Pelicans roster dictates emphasizing Ingram’s offensive skill set more frequently.

Predicted starting lineups

Denver Nuggets – Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic

New Orleans Pelicans – Lonzo Ball, JJ Redick, Jahlil Okafor, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart


Nuggets vs Pelicans Match Prediction

While the home team, the Pelicans are winless, they are an exciting high-scoring team. At the moment, they are averaging 121ppg. However, they are also giving up 128.3ppg. Their problems include giving opponents 53 rebounds per game, 14 of which are offensive boards leading to easy second chance points. There is also the fact that opponents are shooting 40% from beyond the 3-point arc. The Pelicans need to defend against their opponents' perimeter shooting much more aggressively.

The Denver Nuggets will not make matters easy for the Pelicans. Their center Jokic is a great rebounder, besides which the Nuggets make over 36% of their 3 point shots and take nearly 32 of them per game. The Nuggets have won both of their road games this season. 

The Nuggets only won 20 out of their 41 road games last season, so perhaps this could give the Pelicans some hope for Thursday night. However, with no Jrue Holiday or Zion Williamson (both out due to knee injuries), the Nuggets are in better shape and should win their 3rd road game of the season.

Where to watch Nuggets vs the Pelicans?

This Western Conference match-up can be seen on tv on NBA TV Canada or you can stream it live online with NBA League Pass.

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