There is a possibility Denver Nuggets do-everything forward, Nikola Jokic, will be able to return for their home battle with the New Orleans Pelicans Friday night.
The Nuggets, who are 1-5 without Jokic this season, lost to Utah 108-104 without him on Wednesday. Denver, which is 28-23, may get some relief in playing the Pelicans, who have lost four of their past five games to fall to 19-32 on the season.
Jokic, who averages 25.9 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game, scored 29 points against New Orleans earlier in the season in a 116-105 Denver victory. New Orleans has struggled against Western Conference opponents, recording an 11-17 record.
The Nuggets have a number of players who are battling minor ailments. In addition to Jokic, forward Aaron Gordon and Demarcus Cousins are listed as questionable.
Gordon has been playing especially well for Denver, averaging 17.1 points per game over the past ten games. New Orleans is healthier among its available players.
Josh Hart is questionable, but the Pelicans will have many of their leaders available.
Finding their way
New Orleans’ offense has struggled to find any type of identity this season. The Pelicans rank 26th in the league in points scored (105.4 per game), field goal percentage (43.8), and 3-point percentage (32.8).
Brandon Ingram leads New Orleans by scoring 22.5 points per game. Jonas Valanciunas is second on the team, averaging a double-double by contributing 18.2 points and 12.0 rebounds per game.
Defensively, the Pelicans have also had their share of issues. New Orleans allows its opponents to shoot 36.5 percent from the perimeter, which ranks 28th in the league. The Pelicans also allow their opponents to shoot 46.8 percent from the field.
Balancing things out
Jokic is the straw that stirs the drink for Denver, especially with Jamal Murray out for an extended period of time with injury. The Nuggets have balanced out their offense but getting contributions from many different players. Will Barton is second on the team in scoring by pouring in 15.3 points per game.
Monte Morris (12.7 points per game) and Jeff Green (10-4) also score in double figures. Denver ranks fourth in the league in field goal percentage, knocking down 47.2 percent of its shots. The Nuggets also rank 15 in the league in scoring defense, scoring 109.1 points per game.
Pelicans at Nuggets Betting Pick
New Orleans is 24-26-1 against the spread, while Denver is 21-29-1. The total has gone over in 28 of the Nuggets’ 51 games. In the Pelicans’ games this season, the total has gone under in 20 of the 51 games.
Denver has covered the spread in three of its past four games. The Nuggets are 5.5-point favorites and -215 on the moneyline. New Orleans has seen its past four games go under the total.
The Nuggets have a lot of players nursing minor injuries but should be able to persevere and cover the betting spread as home.