The Utah Jazz (41-23) and New Orleans Pelicans (28-36) tipoff the restart of the NBA regular season on Thursday, July 30th. The first game inside the ‘bubble’ at the Walt Disney World Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.
The league is back after almost a four-month hiatus with a pair of contests setting the table for the restart. Tipoff for this matchup, game one of the doubleheader, is scheduled for 6:30 pm EST and can be viewed on TNT. The Pelicans (-2) are a slight favorite, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz are safely in the playoff picture, so these final eight regular-season contests will serve as a tuneup after the extended layoff. The Jazz enter the restart without the services of second-leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic.
Bogdanovic averaged 20.4 points per game before the stoppage but will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing season-ending surgery on his wrist in May.
Without Bogdanovic, the Jazz will lean more on All-Star and the team’s leading scorer Donovan Mitchell (24.2 ppg). The 23-year old is having a career year, but it is unknown how he will perform without a player like Bogdanovic. Mitchell poured in 46 points the last time these teams met back in January.
Starters Rudy Gobert (15.1 ppg) and Mike Conley (13.6 ppg) also will have to step up in the absence of the team’s second-leading scorer. Conley was inactive for the January contest against the Pelicans due to a hamstring injury that he reaggravated in December.
The Jazz are 29-33-2 this season against the spread.
What to Know – New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans is one of the six teams inside the bubble sitting outside of the playoff picture. The Pelicans are 4.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzles for the 8th spot in the Western Conference.
Zion Williamson’s status for the contest is still unknown, with a clearer picture being known after Wednesday’s practice. Whether or not Williamson (23.6 ppg, 6.8 RPG) plays will have a significant role in the outcome of the contest. If he does not suit up, the Pelicans will rely heavily on leading scorers Brandon Ingram (24.3 ppg) and Jrue Holiday (19.6 ppg).
Without Williamson, look for center Derrick Favors to provide the needed interior scorer and additional defense for the Pelicans. Reserve centers Jahil Okafor and Jaxon Hayes could also see their roles expanded if the talented phenom were to miss the contest.
The Pelicans were 33-29-2 against the spread this season before the shutdown.
The Pick is In
The line opened with the Jazz as a slight favorite but has since moved in the Pelicans favor. It has not been made official, but we expect Williamson to play in this game. How ready will he be is a huge question mark. New Orleans is not in the playoffs yet, so the Pelicans have a lot to play for. Williamson’s status is essential in this one, so if he plays, we give the edge to the Pelicans (-2).