With the eyes of sports fans on Walt Disney World in Orlando, the Utah Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans will officially kick off the NBA's restart with a nationally-televised matchup on Thursday. After briefly leaving the NBA bubble, Pelicans star rookie Zion Williamson is scheduled to appear on the floor for Pelicans vs. Jazz, with Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell headlining the festivities for the Jazz in Orlando. On the injury front, Bojan Bogdanovic (wrist) will miss the restart for the Jazz, leaving uncertainty with the team's forward rotation in the first seeding game.
Tip-off for Pelicans-Jazz is at 6:30 p.m. ET in Orlando. William Hill lists the Pelicans as two-point favorites, while the over-under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 228 in the latest Jazz vs. Pelicans odds, up sharply from an open of 221. Before you make any Pelicans vs. Jazz picks and NBA predictions, see what SportsLine's advanced computer model has to say.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and it's already returned over $4,000 in profit on its top-rated NBA picks during the 2019-20 season. It also was a blistering 52-32 on all top-rated NBA spread picks before the coronavirus shutdown, returning almost $1,700 on those picks alone. Anybody who has followed it has seen huge returns.
- Jazz vs. Pelicans spread: Pelicans -2
- Jazz vs. Pelicans over-under: 228 points
- Jazz vs. Pelicans money line: Pelicans -130, Jazz +110
- UTAH: Utah is 2-8 against the spread in its last 10 games.
- NOP: New Orleans is 3-6 against the spread in its last nine games.
Why the Jazz can cover
Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell form an intriguing one-two punch for the Jazz. On top of being the NBA's best rim-protector on the defensive end, Gobert is a dynamic lob threat and elite finisher in the paint. Mitchell is a difficult shot-maker who can command Utah's offense and create when the unit break down, all while providing enough play-making for others to sustain success.
All told, the Jazz are the most efficient shooting team in the NBA, posting a 55.6 percent effective field goal percentage this season. That, coupled with the Pelicans' struggles on the defensive end and their overall youth and inexperience could swing the scoreboard in Utah's direction.
Why the Pelicans can cover
While it may be surprising to see the Pelicans favored over a team with a substantially better win-loss record, New Orleans is exceptionally dangerous when operating at full strength. Williamson unlocks the team's offense as one of the NBA's most efficient and explosive creators, producing off-the-chart statistics on a per-minute basis. From there, Brandon Ingram is a leading candidate for the league's Most Improved Player award after 24.3 points per game with efficient shooting.
In the last 36 games before the NBA's stoppage, New Orleans zoomed to a 22-14 mark and, while the early-season sample can't fully be ignored, the Pelicans have a long stretch of top-10 performances on their ledger. The Pelicans are the younger, healthier, and deeper team, which could give Utah fits, especially given the potential rust for more established players.
How to make Jazz vs. Pelicans picks
SportsLine's model is leaning under on the total, with only four players projected for more than 20 points. The model also says one side of the spread hits in over 50 percent of simulations. You can only see that pick here.
So who wins Jazz vs. Pelicans? And which side of the spread hits in over 50 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the Pelicans vs. Jazz spread you need to jump on Thursday, all from the model on a 52-32 roll.