In an exciting Western Conference matchup, the New Orleans Pelicans host the Denver Nuggets at home. This is the second time these two teams will face each other this season. Their first matchup saw a 5-point victory for the Pelicans despite a triple-double performance by Nikola Jokic. It was a tight encounter but the Nuggets couldn't hold on to win in the final moments as Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson combined for 60 points, scoring 30 apiece.
The Denver Nuggets acquired new pieces at the NBA Trade Deadline yesterday. They reunited with center JaVale McGee and acquired one of the most ferocious dunkers in the league, forward Aaron Gordon from the Orlando Magic.
The New Orleans Pelicans, on the other hand, were relatively quiet during the NBA trade deadline madness. After intense speculation, they finally decided not to part ways with Lonzo Ball.
Denver Nuggets vs New Orleans Pelicans Prediction
The Denver Nuggets are favored to win this matchup based on their current record and form. Nikola Jokic is currently leading the MVP rankings and nobody seems to have an answer for him.
Nevertheless, both teams have won four of their last six games and the matchup is fairly even on paper. The New Orleans Pelicans have begun to gain momentum and rhythm. They are 19-24 and are steadily climbing up the conference ladder.
Although the Denver Nuggets acquired new players, they won't be suiting up tonight and the team will be starting with their usual lineup.
Meanwhile, the Pelicans have listed Lonzo Ball as questionable for this game due to a hip injury and his absence reduces their chances of winning. Ball is the primary facilitator and ball-handler, is aware of the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates, and will be sorely missed by the Pelicans.
Denver Nuggets vs New Orleans Pelicans Combined 5
Point Guard - Jamal Murray | Shooting Guard - Eric Bledsoe | Small Forward - Brandon Ingram | Power Forward - Zion Williamson | Center - Nikola Jokic.
Jamal Murray is one of the finest point guards in the league. His versatile scoring ability makes him a constant threat on the offensive end of the floor. Murray recently dropped 50 points on unbelievable efficiency and became the first player in NBA history to score 50 points in a game without attempting a single free-throw. He is averaging 21.1 points on 48% shooting so far while grabbing the second-highest steals on the Denver Nuggets.
Eric Bledsoe is doing a solid job the New Orleans Pelicans alongside Lonzo Ball. He is most valued for his defensive prowess and has two NBA All-Defensive Team selections. He is averaging 11.3 points and 3.7 assists for the team on the offensive end.
Meanwhile, the reigning "Most Improved Player" Brandon Ingram has been excellent for the New Orleans Pelicans this season. He is scoring nearly 25 points per game while dishing out the second-highest assists on the team. He also leads the Pelicans in blocked shots and his defense has seen improvement. Ingram and Zion Williamson combine for nearly 50 points per game.
Williamson has put on a show this season. He is one of the reasons why the New Orleans Pelicans get so many primetime TV spots and nationally televised games. He also leads the league in FG%, across all 20ppg scorers.
And finally, the center position is filled by none other than Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic. He is regarded as one of the best passing big men in the league and his skillset is off the charts. Jokic's ability to make a pass out of nowhere and find the open man is a sight to behold. He breaks down defenders with his patented "Sombor Shuffle" and his nifty passing makes him one of the best offensive big men of this generation.
Jokic is averaging a near triple-double this season with 27 points, 8.3 assists and 11.3 rebounds per game and is also grabbing a team-high 1.6 steals per outing. As mentioned earlier, he is also leading the NBA MVP race.