The New Orleans Pelicans visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET), the first meeting between the teams since the NBA play-in tournament last April.
Who has the edge? Read on as we break down the matchup and analyze the Pelicans vs Thunder moneyline.
Day/Time: Location: Paycom Center; Oklahoma City
Thunder vs Pelicans Betting Trends
Oklahoma City was among the most profitable teams against the spread last season, with a record of 46-35-3. Their 56.8% cover rate was the third highest in the NBA. They’re off to another strong start this year at 3-1. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Pelicans are 2-1 ATS following a 39-44 mark last season. Keep that in mind when assessing whether to bet the Pelicans vs Thunder moneyline or spread.
OKC Trending in Right Direction
The Oklahoma City Thunder are off to a 3-1 start following Monday’s 124-112 victory over the Detroit Pistons. A 6.5-point favorite, Oklahoma City covered the spread for the third time this year thanks to a 32-point, nine-rebound performance from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Five different players scored in double figures.
Oklahoma City’s projected 44.5 wins, a total it last exceeded in 2018-19. It could do so again thanks to an emerging lineup featuring Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, and Chet Holmgren, who missed his entire rookie season with a torn ACL. All are age 25 or younger. The Thunder went 40-42 last year and lost in the play-in tournament, their first playoff appearance since 2019-20.
Oklahoma City’s viewed as a dark horse because of that, with +3000 odds to win the Western Conference. There’s still a lot to overcome, but Oklahoma City is clearly trending in the right direction after a pair of 20-win seasons.
The Thunder are proficient offensively, averaging 112.8 points after ranking fifth (117.5) a year ago. They have a true No. 1 scorer in Gilgeous-Alexander (26.0 PPG), not to mention an MVP candidate at +1400. Meanwhile, Holmgren, averaging 15.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per NBA player stats, is +225 to win Rookie of the Year. He trails only No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama (-120).
All Eyes on Zion
The New Orleans Pelicans (2-1) suffered their first loss Thursday, falling 130-102 to the Golden State Warriors. A 2.5-point home favorite, New Orleans was outscored 71-45 in the second half and failed to cover the spread for the first time this season.
Rookie first-rounder Jordan Hawkins made his first NBA start for New Orleans, scoring 14 points on 6 of 13 shooting in 35 minutes. Hawkins was one of six Pelicans to score in double figures, led by Zion Williamson (19 points).
Like Oklahoma City, New Orleans was projected for 44.5 wins. The Pelicans are coming off a 42-40 finish that included a 123-118 loss to Oklahoma City in the play-in tournament. Much of their hopes rest on the development of former No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson, a dynamic scorer who’s been injured far too often. Williamson has appeared in only 37% of the Pelicans’ games since being drafted in 2019, including missing the entire 2021-22 campaign. He was limited to 29 games last year, during which he averaged 26 points.
Oddsmakers are bullish on New Orleans, a +165 co-favorite to win the Southwest Division alongside Dallas. The Pelicans are also +2200 to win the Western Conference.
Williamson is off to a strong start this season, averaging 22.7 points and 5.7 rebounds. That’s second on the team behind Brandon Ingram (22.5). Keep that in mind when analyzing the Pelicans vs Thunder moneyline.
Handicapping the Game
The Thunder are trending up thanks to the emergence of the 7-foot-1 Holmgren, the former second-overall pick who’s coming off an injury. With Holmgren healthy, the Thunder have a solid rim protector, not to mention another capable perimeter shooter. Holmgren is off to a 10 of 16 start from 3-point range.
The Pelicans have plenty of viable scorers, too, including the sharpshooting C.J. McCollum. They’ll be dangerous so long as Williamson stays healthy, which is no guarantee given his track record.
This early in the season, teams are still trying to separate themselves from the pack. Oklahoma City and New Orleans are both in the mix … somewhere. Given that, the slight edge goes to the Thunder because of their homecourt advantage.