The bad news for the New Orleans Pelicans and their fans is Brandon Ingram’s return did not halt their now seven-game losing streak. The good news for basketball fans in general is that this Pelicans’ stumble has brought increased chaos to the Western Conference playoff race.
The Milwaukee Bucks do not care about any of that, of course. They just want to keep pace in the East. They should be able to help that cause tonight.
Here are our free NBA picks and predictions for Pelicans vs Bucks on Sunday, January 29.
Pelicans vs Bucks best odds
Pelicans vs Bucks picks and predictions
It's not just that New Orleans keeps losing. It's that the Pelicans keep getting blown out.
In going 2-5 ATS in their last seven, they have stayed within single digits of the spread just once in those five betting losses, and that was still a 10-point defeat at Cleveland. New Orleans’ last four ATS losses have come by an average of 15.8 points compared to the spread. Asking Milwaukee to win by 11 or 11.5 is thus not that ambitious of a thought.
What has been failing the Pelicans as they have lost seven games in a row and eight of nine? Their offense.
Since Jan. 10, New Orleans has the worst offensive rating in the league, per statmuse.com, and the distance between the Pelicans and the Rockets at No. 29 is nearly the same as the distance between the Rockets and the Pistons at No. 21. Seven of New Orleans’ nine games in that stretch were without Brandon Ingram (not to mention Zion Williamson, who remains sidelined), but his return has not sparked any sort of revival.
Ingram is 12-of-40 in his two games back, and just 1-of-11 from beyond the arc. Some rust is understandable, but chucking away while shooting this terribly is only furthering the Pelicans’ fall down the standings. They were firmly in the No. 3 post out West, even vaguely threatening the Grizzlies in the No. 2 spot at points. Now, New Orleans is effectively tied with the Timberwolves, Warriors, Mavericks, and Suns as two of them try to avoid the play-in.
Facing the Bucks will not make Ingram’s life easier. They are ranked No. 11 in team defensive rating since Jan. 10, but the slow return of Khris Middleton gives reason to think Milwaukee is about to find its best form.
Middleton has played only about 15 minutes in each of the last three games – his first action since mid-December – but has posted a net +28 in those 45 minutes. Facing the likes of Ingram and CJ McCollum will give Middleton a chance to flex his defensive prowess, along with star Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday.
Middleton should relish furthering Ingram’s woes, as defensive tenacity is quicker to come back for a player off a long absence than a sweet shooting stroke.
And until Ingram finds his shooting form, fading the Pelicans offense will be an easy call. New Orleans has scored 109 points or more only once in its last seven games, all loses, when it managed 110 at Orlando. It has averaged 101.4 points in this losing streak.
My best bet: Pelicans TT Under 108.5 (-106 at FanDuel)
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Pelicans vs Bucks spread analysis
A more proactive handicapper would have jumped on the -8.5 when this opened late Saturday night. By Sunday morning, the market was covered with -9.0, and then after lunch it jumped to -11.0 or -11.5, depending on your book.
If you're looking for an on-court reason for a three-point move, it may have been because no Bucks popped up on a morning injury report after Giannis Antetokounmpo was listed as merely "probable" on Saturday night. It would always have been a surprise for him not to play, but given the Pelicans’ struggles, a rest day may not have been too shocking.
But there is no indication of such. Milwaukee will be at full strength, sans Bobby Portis, tonight.
Pelicans vs Bucks Over/Under analysis
The total fell even more so, opening at 234.0 before dropping to 231.0 by early Sunday afternoon, and then down to 229.5 by mid-afternoon. Again, Antetokounmpo’s presence may have played a role.
As dangerous as he can be offensively, the combination of the Greek Freak, Holiday and Middleton should completely halt an already struggling New Orleans offense.
Pelicans vs Bucks betting trend to know
The Under is 6-2 in the Pelicans' last eight games overall. Find more NBA betting trends for Pelicans vs. Bucks.
Pelicans vs Bucks game info
|Location:||Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI|
|Date:||Sunday, January 29, 2023|
|Tip-off:||8:00 p.m. ET|
|TV:||Bally New Orleans, Bally Wisconsin|