The Philadelphia 76ers are coming off an utter thrashing of the Los Angeles Lakers, a 138-94 blowout, the worst losing margin of LeBron James’ career. They’re hoping to keep the momentum going as slim NBA odds favorites against a New Orleans Pelicans team that is off to a solid start but has stumbled over their last two games.
The Pelicans suffered back-to-back losses to the Utah Jazz, who only have six wins total on the season. If they want to have a shot at homecourt in the Western Conference, they have to show more consistency.
Our NBA picks and predictions for 76ers vs. Pelicans believe that Philadelphia’s new-look offense is going to cause problems for New Orleans.
76ers vs Pelicans odds
76ers vs Pelicans predictions
Talent decides. That’s the ultimate lesson of the last four decades of NBA basketball. The teams with the most talent tend to win and to a high degree of predictability.
But the NBA is also entering an unparalleled era of parity, and as the talent gaps between teams narrow, team construction, chemistry, and yes, coaching come to matter more and more.
So, when the Philadelphia 76ers decided to move on from Doc Rivers, it didn’t make nearly as many headlines as some of the relatively minor trades and free-agency acquisitions that happened last summer. But hiring Nick Nurse, and in turn, letting go of James Harden to empower Tyrese Maxey, has drastically changed the fortunes of this Philadelphia team.
Nurse has instituted a more democratic offense, leaning away from two players dominating the ball on every possession while the rest stand around the perimeter and spot up. That has allowed the 76ers to remain elite despite losing the NBA assists leader, who also formed one of the league's best pick-and-roll partnerships with Joel Embiid last season.
The 76ers isolate less and pass more and it all starts with Embiid. His turnover rate is basically unchanged despite the fact that his assist percentage has jumped from 23.3% to a career-high 33.37%. The additional off-ball movement that Nurse has incorporated into Philadelphia’s offense allows Embiid to make easier decisions and also make it more difficult to double-team him into committing turnovers.
But the change from having Harden as lead guard to Maxey is also stark. Harden is a plodding player at this point in his career, who thrives on creating advantages in the halfcourt. Maxey wants to run the ball down your throat on every possession, and the 76ers as a whole have bought into that style of play.
There’s more ball and player movement, emphasis on cutting and attacking early, with players willing and able to make aggressive cuts and quick decisions. While it wasn’t easy to defend the 76ers last year, it also wasn’t mentally taxing. This team punishes teams that lose collective focus to a degree that last year’s did not, and I think that will give them an edge against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.
The Pelicans are coming off a pair of baffling losses to the Utah Jazz, both of which they were significant favorites to win. They simply didn’t execute on either end well enough to win, and the decision-making from Brandon Ingram in particular was a drag on their performance.
While CJ McCollum could potentially make a return for today’s game, he would be rusty, and as ever, a defensive liability that the 76ers could easily exploit.
My best bet: 76ers -1 (-105 at DraftKings)
76ers vs Pelicans same-game parlay
Tobias Harris has been one of the 76ers' unsung heroes this season, so he’s the feature target of my same-game parlay for Wednesday’s action. While it was Doc who was originally thought to be the Tobias whisperer after their time spent together on the Los Angeles Clippers, it's been Nurse who has remade Harris as a player.
Some players excel as spot-up shooters, and while Harris can hit those shots, he’s not a specialist. He’s best when he can do a bit of everything as a basketball player, and Nurse is empowering him to grab and go off rebounds, hunt and attack mismatches, and work in hand-off plays above the arc. Overall, it’s seen Harris play some of his best ball in a 76ers uniform.
He’s averaging 18.6 points this season on 56.9% effective field goal percentage. While he’s had a cold streak from three lately, the Pels give up so many quality looks that I like getting plus money value to lop that in as part of this parlay.
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76ers vs Pelicans spread and Over/Under analysis
The 76ers are slight favorites for Wednesday’s contest, with odds coming between -1 and -1.5 in their favor. The 76ers defense faltered recently but they looked refreshed against L.A.
Nurse puts heavy demands on his players, both in terms of minutes and miles traveled in his defensive schemes, but they also perform. The 76ers have been smashing spreads this season, with a 12-5 record ATS record overall.
Even with their two losses to the Utah Jazz, the Pelicans have been one of the best ATS teams over the last two weeks, with a +10.4 spread differential per Cleaning the Glass.
But that number is a bit misleading, as it’s almost entirely the product of a single blowout victory over the Sacramento Kings. For the most part, the Pelicans have played middling to baffling basketball recently, while the 76ers have been in a zone.
The total opened at 226.5 before rising to 227.5, which seems about right to me. From a statistical standpoint, these are two above-average defenses, with New Orleans having the 14th-best defense in the NBA. But, the metrics suggest that the Pels are benefiting from a lot of shooting variance.
They allow more opponent threes than any other team outside of Chicago, including a lot of wide-open looks, but opposing teams are shooting just 33.1% on those shots. That luck isn’t bound to run out against the 76ers today necessarily, but it is going to run equalize over time, and the 76ers are shooting the hell out of the ball. Their shooting was the key reason they boat raced the Lakers on Monday, as they went 22-46 from deep.
That said the Pelicans are a slow, plodding team. They have one of the lowest transition frequencies in the league at 15.6% of their possessions. If the Pels succeed in turning this into a halfcourt slog, I could see this going Under.
76ers vs Pelicans betting trend to know
The 76ers are 12-5 ATS over their last 17 games. Find more NBA betting trends for 76ers vs. Pelicans.
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76ers vs Pelicans game info
|Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
|Wednesday, November 29, 2023
|8:00 p.m. ET
|NBC Sports Philadelphia, Bally Sports New Orleans
76ers vs Pelicans latest injuries
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