The Denver Nuggets narrowly fell to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday after reigning MVP Nikola Jokic was forced from the lineup with a foot injury. With Joker apparently returning to the lineup tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans, will our NBA betting picks and predictions favor the Nuggets as they return home?
Let's see if the injury-ravaged Pelicans are overmatched in their trip to the Rocky Mountains on Friday, February 4.
Pelicans vs Nuggets odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
The Nuggets opened as 5.5-point favorites on Thursday evening. Overnight, this has ticked up to -6 or even as high as -6.5, but the original number can still be found at some books. The total has remained static from its opening number of 222.5.
Pelicans vs Nuggets predictions
- Prediction: Nuggets -5.5 (-110)
- Prediction: Over 222.5 (-110)
- Best bet: Jokic Over 25.5 points (-110)
Predictions made on 2/4/2022 at 9:15 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Pelicans vs Nuggets game info
• Location: Ball Arena, Denver, CO
• Date: Friday, February 4, 2022
• Tip-off: 9:00 p.m. ET
• TV: ALT, BSNO
Pelicans vs Nuggets betting preview
Pelicans: Zion Williamson PF (Out), Josh Hart SG (Questionable), Garrett Temple SG (Out), Willy Hernangomez C (Out), Didi Louzada PG (Out), Kira Lewis Jr. PG (Out).
Nuggets: Nikola Jokic C (Probable), Aaron Gordon PF (Probable), DeMarcus Cousins C (Questionable), Jamal Murray SG (Out), Michael Porter Jr. PF (Out), Vlatko Cancar SF (Out).
Find our latest NBA injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Over is 7-0 in the Nuggets' last 7 home games. Find more NBA betting trends for Pelicans vs. Nuggets.
Pelicans vs Nuggets picks and predictions
Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.
Remove Nikola Jokic from the equation and things go sideways for the Denver Nuggets. Fortunately for them, it's not a reality that's come about that often this season. The Nuggets are 1-5 in games where Jokic is unable to go, including a 108-104 loss to the Jazz on Wednesday. In addition to being without Jokic, the Nuggets were also wrapping up a six-game road trip that culminated with that game and a preceding blowout against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Perhaps there's some apprehension about Jokic's injured toe and whether or not he'll be effective enough tonight, but the New Orleans Pelicans shouldn't be cause for much concern. They're still missing Zion Williamson and might be without Josh Hart due to a knee injury. That leaves the bulk of the heavy lifting to Brandon Ingram — who only just returned from a five-game absence because of an injured ankle — and Jonas Valanciunas.
Without Jokic, the Pelicans stand a chance. With Jokic active? No dice. The Nuggets have already won two meetings against the Pelicans this season (116-105, 120-114) and both were in New Orleans. Jokic, unsurprisingly, was a behemoth in both games, logging triple-doubles in each outing.
The Pelicans also do not travel well, going 8-19 away from home this season. And even though they're coming off a 10-point win over the 12-38 Pistons, the Pelicans had lost four straight prior to that game, including one of the aforementioned games against the Nuggets.
In addition to Jokic, Aaron Gordon is expected to slide back into the starting lineup after also sitting out in Salt Lake City. Gordon's been somewhat uneven in Denver but he's made strides this year and gives the Nuggets' frontcourt added depth as a second option to Jokic.
The Nuggets have beaten the Pelicans by wider margins twice already and both instances were at Smoothie King Center, where New Orleans should theoretically be tougher to beat.
Prediction: Nuggets -5.5 (-110)
A healthy Jokic and a home-court advantage have us leaning toward the Over, even if the Pelicans have struggled to put up points in bulk in recent games. Prior to Wednesday's loss to the Jazz, the Nuggets at scored at least 115 points in nine of their last 11 games.
This is still a tricky total to handicap as neither squad plays at an especially brisk pace. But, the Nuggets are 28-23 O/U this season and see their scoring average jump from 113 on the road to 117.1 at home, according to Statmuse. Factor in a healthy Ingram and a sturdy Valanciunas, averaging 22.5 and 18.2 points per game, respectively, and this should have just enough to go Over the total.
Prediction: Over 222.5 (-110)
Jokic being active and the Nuggets returning home after a moderately lengthy road trip — to host a team that hasn't played at 100% all year — makes this almost a gimme spread. Unsurprisingly, New Orleans has one of the worst point differentials in the Western Conference and has yet to win consecutive road games on the same trip this season.
But as the spread ticks upward, it's worth eyeing player prop markets. Jokic's points total is currently set at 25.5, which is a smidge below his season average. And while he fell below that number in each of his last two games before the toe injury, Jokic eclipsed that mark in the six games prior... and he easily went Over in both matchups against the Pelicans this season.
Finally, he's averaging 27.1 points per home game compared to 25.1 on the road. Add in the fact that the Pelicans are in the Bottom 5 in terms of points allowed to opposing centers, according to Hashtag Basketball, and we're confident Jokic tops this number.
Pick: Nikola Jokic Over 25.5 points (-110)
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