So Far, So Good for Defending NBA Champion Nuggets

Nuggets vs Pelicans Predictions: Denver Opens as 5.5-point favs

Two of the Western Conference’s top teams square off Monday (9 p.m. ET) when the New Orleans Pelicans visit the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets.

Denver opened as a 5.5-point favorite (-110) and -210 on the moneyline. Conversely, New Orleans is +5.5 (-110) on the spread and +175 to win outright. The total is 221 (-110 Over, -110 Under).

Will the Nuggets keep building on their hot start? Or are the Pelicans capable of pulling off the upset? Read on as we break down both teams, assess the odds, and give our Nuggets vs Pelicans predictions.

Pelicans logo New Orleans Pelicans vs Denver Nuggets Nuggets logo

Day/Time: Location: Ball Arena; Denver

Nuggets vs Pelicans Betting Trends

The New Orleans Pelicans have covered the spread in four of their first six games. Their 66.7% cover rate is tied for the third-best in the NBA. The total has gone Under four times. Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets are off to a similarly strong start ATS at 4-3. The total has gone Under in five of Denver’s first seven games. That’s important to remember when assessing the odds in our Nuggets vs Pelicans predictions.

McCollum Sidelined

The New Orleans Pelicans are 4-2 but will be without star guard C.J. McCollum indefinitely due to a small collapsed right lung. McCollum is second on the team in scoring with 21.7 points per game and is also averaging 4.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists.

This is the second time in McCollum’s career he has dealt with this injury. During the 2021-22 season, McCollum missed 18 games. The team plans to undergo additional tests over the next 48 hours to clarify his status.

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No matter how long he’s out, it’s a big blow for New Orleans, which has already dealt with NBA injuries to the likes of Brandon Ingram (knee tendinitis) and Jose Alvarado (right ankle sprain). One of the NBA’s most accurate 3-point shooters, McCollum, 32, was playing an ideal complement to Zion Williamson.

Projected for 43.5 wins, the Pelicans are looking to take the next step after losing in the play-in tournament. Oddsmakers are optimistic, pricing them -180 to make the playoffs and +145 to win the Southwest Division (Dallas is currently a -105 favorite). But health is a significant factor. Williamson has played in only 37% of the Pelicans’ games since he was drafted first overall in 2019, including missing the entire 2021-22 campaign. Keep that in mind when making your NBA basketball picks.

Same Old, Same Old in Denver

Championship hangover? What championship hangover? That’s of no concern to the Denver Nuggets, who are off to a terrific 6-1 start on the heels of their NBA title.

As usual, everything revolves around Nikola Jokic. The two-time MVP and five-time All-Star is averaging 27.4 points, 12.7 rebounds and 7.9 assists through seven games and already has two triple-doubles. Accordingly, Jokic is favored at +360 on the NBA MVP odds board.

Projected for an NBA-high 54.5 wins, the Nuggets are also a +250 Western Conference favorite and own the third-best odds for the NBA title at +500, behind only Boston (+375) and Milwaukee (+400).

They’ve been dominant out of the gates. Their plus-9.8 point differential is the second highest in the West. No team is scoring at a more efficient rate (51.2% field goal). Although it’s still early, there’s no reason to believe the Nuggets will slow down anytime soon. This is essentially the same team — minus veteran Bruce Brown — that rolled through the NBA Finals last June.

Notably, Denver also ranks fourth in the NBA in scoring defense (104.7 points allowed per game). Don’t forget to factor that into your Nuggets vs Pelicans predictions.

Handicapping the Game

The Nuggets have picked up where they left off last season, looking every bit like the best team in the West, if not the entire NBA. Much of that is because of Jokic, but the contributions of Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon can’t be overlooked. They’re deep and experienced, not to mention well-coached.

While New Orleans has also looked good, McCollum’s absence is a big blow. It’s yet to be seen whether Williamson is capable of carrying the team on his back.

The Nuggets are shaping up as a deserving favorite in this spot, especially at home.


For NBA bettingnews, odds, analysis, and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.

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