Pelicans vs Jazz Picks and Predictions: NOLA Offense Burns Utah

New Orleans comes into this game on top of the Western Conference and looks unstoppable offensively. Now it faces a sliding Utah team that is desperate for a win, but our NBA betting picks believe the Pels have too much firepower.

Last Updated: Dec 13, 2022 12:40 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Zion Williamson CJ McCollum New Orleans Pelicans NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz will try to slow down the red-hot New Orleans Pelicans when they host their Western Conference rivals at Vivint Arena Tuesday night.

New Orleans has won seven straight games and now boasts the best record in the West at 18-8. Utah has lost two straight and is currently on the bubble for a playoff spot at 15-14. 

Nobody has been able to stop NOLA as of late, but sportsbooks are giving the home side a shot at springing an upset at home. We’ll break down who has the edge tonight in our NBA betting picks and predictions for Pelicans vs. Jazz on December 13.

Pelicans vs Jazz best odds

Pelicans vs Jazz picks and predictions

Since losing a road game to the Memphis Grizzlies on November 25 the Pelicans have won seven straight, most recently beating the Phoenix Suns twice in a row at home over the weekend. The second of those wins were close — New Orleans needed overtime to put away the Suns on Sunday — but the streak continued nonetheless. 

Zion Williamson has been the standout for NOLA during this streak. Williamson is averaging 30 points per game during the seven-game winning streak and is shooting an incredible 65.9% from the field over his last five games. 

Utah comes into Tuesday’s game in need of a win. The Jazz have lost three of their last four and eight of 11, currently sitting 10th in the Western Conference standings. Injuries have exasperated Utah’s problems as of late, with Mike Conley and Lauri Markkanen both missing time.

The Jazz expect Conley to play on Tuesday, but Markkanen — who leads the team in scoring (22.2 ppg) and rebounding (8.5 per game) is still questionable as he recovers from a non-COVID illness.

Even if Markkanen does play, it won’t do much to help Utah slow down New Orleans’ offense. The Pelicans are averaging 117.6 points per game, good for third in the NBA. Led by Williamson, they shoot 48.8% from the field, making them one of the most efficient offensive units in the league.

The Jazz are right up there with New Orleans when it comes to scoring the ball. However, they have come up short on defense, posting one of the worst defensive efficiency numbers in the league. They give up 111.8 points for every 100 possessions, a number that will look even worse when the Pelicans roll into town.

There’s no doubt that NOLA is the better team in this matchup. The question becomes whether home-court advantage is enough to give Utah a shot on Tuesday night, or whether the Pelicans will run away with another win.

It would be one thing if Utah was particularly dominant at home. The Jazz have definitely played better in their arena, going 9-5 this year at Vivint Arena, but that’s hardly the kind of dominant number that would give me confidence in them tonight.

Despite all these factors, most sites list the Pels as just a 1.5-point favorite tonight. That’s simply not enough given the gap in talent between these two teams, particularly on the defensive end. This won’t be a blowout, but New Orleans will leave Utah with another win, and the tiny spread isn’t enough to scare me off this game.

My best bet: Pelicans -1.5 (-107 at PointsBet)

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Pelicans vs Jazz spread analysis

The Pelicans opened tonight’s game as a two-point favorite over Utah. While some books still have that as the main line spread, most now list New Orleans -1.5 as the primary line. 

Both of these teams have played well against the spread this year. The Pelicans are 15-11 ATS, while the Jazz are 16-13 ATS on the season.

For those looking for a reason to bet on Utah, it’s worth noting that the Jazz won the first meeting between these two teams in New Orleans back in October. It was a 122-121 victory in overtime, and it was only the third game of the year. Williamson played just 30 minutes — though he still scored 25 points — while a fully healthy Markkanen scored 31. 

In other words, that game took place a long time ago with both teams still settling into the season. Markkanen could play tonight but could be limited in terms of minutes as he returns from illness, while Williamson is playing far more (and far better) than he did in the opening days of the season.

There’s no reason to expect a repeat of that first meeting tonight. As I outlined above, the play here is to take the Pelicans -1.5. 

Pelicans vs Jazz Over/Under analysis

Tonight’s Over/Under opened at 231.5. There’s been a touch of upward movement since, and the consensus total now sits around 232.5 as of noon on Tuesday.

As I discussed earlier, both of these teams can score. We’ve already talked about New Orleans’ explosive offense, but with a full lineup, Utah is nearly as dangerous. The Jazz are averaging 117.3 points per game, ranking just behind the Pelicans in that category.

However, the key difference between these two teams is on the defensive end. New Orleans holds opponents to just 110.6 points a night and has been especially effective at stopping teams from beating it from deep. Opponents are shooting just 33.5% from behind the arc against the Pelicans this year — the second-worst mark in the league.

That’s a reason to like both the Pelicans and the Under tonight. Three of Utah’s top scorers — Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson, and Malik Beasley — tend to do a lot of their scoring from 3-point range. Assuming all three play (Clarkson is also questionable with a hip injury), they’ll get their points, but will be slowed by New Orleans’ outstanding perimeter defense.

While the first game this year between these teams went over the number, that’s only because it went to overtime. In regulation, these teams combined for just 220 points, and I expect a similar output tonight. Let’s back the Under.

Pelicans vs Jazz betting trend to know

The Pelicans are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall. Find more NBA betting trends for Pelicans vs. Jazz.

Pelicans vs Jazz game info

Location: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Tip-off: 9:00 p.m. ET
TV: SportsNet Rocky Mountain, Bally Sports New Orleans

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