Pelicans vs. Kings NBA Pick
The Pelicans and the Kings look to keep their playoff hopes when they clash on Wednesday. Both teams are at 28-36, four games behind the Grizzlies for the last playoff spot in the West. This is clearly a must-win spot for them. What’s the right NBA pick for this contest?
FiveThirtyEight has the Kings as 0.5-point home favorites and most sportsbooks have them at +2. That’s a 2.5-point gap from FiveThirtyEight’s Elo-based RAPTOR projections and thheodds so there’s some betting value on the spread.
New Orleans Pelicans (28-36) vs. Sacramento Kings (28-36)
Wednesday, March 11 at 10:30 PM ET (ESPN), Golden 1 Center
Pelicans Overcome Slow Start
A 6-22 start didn’t prevent the Pelicans from finding a way to get back in the race for a playoff berth. Jrue Holiday, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball have played extremely well and they have their team with something to look forward to. That said, they will not go far unless Josh Hart, Nicolo Melli and the rest of their bench steps up in the next 18 games, which includes two crucial meetings with the Grizzlies.
The play of their reserves was a strength for the Pelicans but the unit has scored a combined 22 points or fewer in five of their last seven contests. New Orleans needs them to be more productive and it all starts with Hart and Melli, who picked picked the worst time to go cold from 3-point range.
Hart is shooting just 26.5 percent from beyond the arc in his last 10 games while Melli is just 4-for-18 (22.2 percent) in his last three games. He is making just 17.9 percent of his attempts from distances in his last five games. This is not good as the Pelicans rely on them to get their bench going on offense.
Josh Hart has given them timely 3-point shooting, rebounding and versatility on defense. Just look at Friday’s game against the Heat, when he scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench. He did that while going 6-for-12 from the field and 3-for-7 from 3-point range. More of that could help them beat the Kings on Wednesday.
No Buddy in the End
The Kings have lost two of their last three games after a close 118-113 home defeat against the Raptors last Sunday. Buddy Hield (plus-2.7 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) wasn’t on the court in the end and fans voiced their displeasure to head coach Luke Walton.
Hield was having a rough night with just 11 points on 4 of 12 shooting and 3 of 8 from beyond the arc in 24 minutes off the bench but the Kings outscored the Raptors by seven points when he was on the court and he can catch fire at any time. Has Walton learned his lesson ahead of Wednesday?
Betting Trends and Prediction
The Under is:
4-0 in New Orleans’ last four games following an ATS win
5-1 in New Orleans’ last six games when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game
As much firepower as both teams have, this is a very high total. The Kings gave up 118 points to the Raptors and the teams combined for 131 points on Sunday. The Pelicans’ bench is cold and this game means too much for these teams, so I expect them to focus on defense. Another bad shooting from Hield wouldn’t hurt our chances to cash this Under. The Pelicans are averaging 115.0 points in their last two games. This will be a dog fight and hopefully there’s no overtime.