Spurs vs Pelicans Picks and Predictions: Valanciunas Has Big Night Even if Spurs Cover

The San Antonio Spurs have been a defensive powerhouse and an against-the-spread monster, and we expect them to cover the spread against the Pelicans even if they don't pull out the win. New Orleans big Jonas Valanciunas should have a great night as well.

Last Updated: Apr 13, 2022 6:30 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Jonas Valanciunas New Orleans Pelicans
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans host the San Antonio Spurs in the play-in tournament Wednesday, with one of these teams advancing to duke it out for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs.

Bookies have New Orleans pegged as a 5-point home favorite despite San Antonio winning three of the four matchups in the regular season, most recently a 107-103 win as a 6-point pup in NOLA on March 26. The Spurs do enter this game on a three-game slide but have been NBA betting gold the past two weeks, riding a seven-game against-the-spread streak into Wednesday’s contest.

Here are our free NBA betting picks and predictions for Spurs at Pelicans on April 13.

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Spurs vs Pelicans odds

This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.

New Orleans opened as 5.5-point home chalk and that slimmed to -5 with early play on the visitor. The total opened at 232.5 points and has come down to as low as 228.5 as of Tuesday morning.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right until tip-off and be sure to check out the full NBA odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.

Spurs vs Pelicans predictions

Predictions made on 4/12/2022 at 9:45 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Spurs vs Pelicans game info

Location: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
Date: Wednesday, April 13, 2022
Tip-off: 9:30 p.m. ET

Spurs vs Pelicans betting preview

Key injuries

Spurs: Doug McDermott F (Questionable), Lonnie Walker G (Questionable).
Pelicans: Brandon Ingram F (Questionable).
Find our latest NBA injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Spurs are 8-1 ATS in their last nine meetings with the Pelicans. Find more NBA betting trends for Spurs vs. Pelicans.

Spurs vs Pelicans picks and predictions

Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.

Spread analysis

San Antonio backs into the play-in tournament on a three-game skid but the Spurs played beyond oddsmakers’ expectations in those contests and put up a good fight against the likes of Dallas, Golden State, and Minnesota — three teams that are either postseason bound or are competing in the play-in.

New Orleans also stumbled into Wednesday on a two-game snag, looking much worse losing to Golden State and Memphis by a combined 48 points. The Pelicans may be 5-3 straight up since falling to the Spurs on March 26, but those victories came against the likes of Portland (twice), the L.A. Lakers (twice), and Sacramento. And despite that soft sked, NOLA went just 4-4 ATS in that span.

It’s reasonable to say the underdog Spurs are playing better basketball as we enter Wednesday, especially on defense — even after allowing 130 points to Dallas in the season finale Sunday. 

Since their lone loss to the Pelicans on March 18, San Antonio has been one of the better defensive teams in the NBA. In the 11 games that would follow, the Spurs would go 7-4 and own an advanced defensive rating of 109.9 (fourth lowest in that span) while limiting foes to a mere 108.7 points per contest.

New Orleans comes into the play-in game with standout forward Branon Ingram banged up, nursing a hamstring injury that has held him out the past three games. The Pelicans’ leading scorer is vital to NOLA’s chances of advancing, most notably his ability to get inside and draw fouls. Ingram averages six free throws per game and has been even more aggressive at getting to the stripe in recent outings.

New Orleans is dependent on those freebies, ranked third in percentage of points from the foul line. However, San Antonio is a very disciplined defense and sits second-fewest in personal fouls per game (18.1), sending foes to the charity stripe fewer than 21 times an outing. In their most recent meeting, the Pelicans were only 13 for 19 from the foul line.

With San Antonio slamming the door on defense and keeping the Pelicans off the line, we’ll gladly take the points with an underdog that’s playing beyond its win/loss record and one that’s been straight cash for NBA bettors the past two weeks.

Prediction: Spurs +5.5 (-110 at BetMGM)

Over/Under analysis

If Ingram is ineffective due to that hamstring injury, New Orleans could struggle to score. The Pelicans were able to put up points against some of those terrible teams down the home stretch but did run into trouble when facing legit defenses like Golden State and the L.A. Clippers.

The Spurs have been very solid inside, limiting their last 11 opponents to just 44.7 points in the paint and holding foes to just 43.7% shooting from the floor (lowest in the league in that span). San Antonio is also one of the better teams at plugging the passing lanes in the halfcourt set, allowing an assist per field goal made rate of just 0.566 (second lowest in the NBA on the year).  

That could push the Pelicans to the perimeter where, beyond C.J. McCollum, the team lacks reliable shooters from distance. New Orleans is 25th in 3-point success since the break (34.3%) and averages only 10.4 triples per contest — the second-lowest rate in the league since the All-Star Game.

As for the Spurs’ attack, it’s often hit and miss — even within the same game. We’ve seen San Antonio build and blow big leads in multiple outings the past few weeks. The Spurs have seen a drop in tempo in recent outings, boasting a pace rating of just 98.95 in the last 11 outings, shifting down from a tempo of 100.75 that ranked as fourth fastest in the NBA since the start of the season.

Prediction: Under 229 (-110 at PointsBet)

Best bet

If Ingram is limited, New Orleans needs a big game from big man Jonas Valanciunas.

Valanciunas was limited in the final games of the season due to an ankle injury, skipping the finale with Golden State on Sunday and playing only six minutes in the loss to Memphis on Saturday. In the two games prior to the weekend, he put in just 22 minutes of work in matchups with Portland and the L.A. Clippers.

Valanciunas was playing at a high level in March, averaging 18.5 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, and came to play versus San Antonio this season, averaging 17 points and almost 12 rebounds over four run-ins with the Spurs. 

San Antonio’s defensive improvements are forcing more misses, but the team isn’t great at cleaning up those rebounds, ranking 26th in defensive rebound percentage and allowing 11.4 offensive boards per contest. 

Valanciunas is one of the best rebounders on the offensive glass, wrangling 3.1 OREB per game (T-11th), and will use those boards to boost his point production with easy putbacks.

Pick: Jonas Valanciunas Over 30.5 Points + Rebounds (-118 at FanDuel)

NBA parlays

Did you know that if you parlayed today’s NBA Spurs vs. Pelicans predictions and picks in a single-game parlay, you could win $57.33 on a $10 bet?

Use our NBA parlay calculator to create your own parlays and see their potential payouts.

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