The San Antonio Spurs could be without six of their top seven scorers when they march into the Big Easy tonight to play the New Orleans Pelicans.
San Antonio has several key contributors either out due to injury or rest, along with others listed as questionable. That skeleton crew has forced bookmakers to quickly shift the spread for this matchup from as low as New Orleans -8 to as high as -13 as of Tuesday morning.
While the Spurs seem to be in pure tank mode, the Pels are still pushing for the postseason. New Orleans has stumbled since the All-Star break with a 4-8 straight up and against the spread record, dropping it to 12th in the West and a game out of a spot in the play-in tournament.
I run down the adjustments to the spread and Over/Under total and give my best NBA picks and predictions for the Spurs vs. Pelicans on March 21.
Spurs vs Pelicans best odds
Spurs vs Pelicans picks and predictions
Originally, I was jumping on Keldon Johnson’s point prop for tonight, as he looked to be the lone starter going for a Spurs team sitting just about every key player. And then they sat him too.
After going back to the drawing board, I’m looking at San Antonio’s reserve forward Malaki Branham to top his rebounding total of 4.5 (Over +110) as he steps into major minutes with the roster running thin.
Branham has been much more active on the glass the past two months, averaging 4.2 rebounds per game since the start of February. That’s carried over to March with his minutes climbing. Branham has pulled down five or more boards in four of his seven appearances this month, including six rebounds when he stepped into the starting lineup against Memphis last Friday.
San Antonio’s frontcourt will be without Zach Collins, Jeremy Sochan, Devin Vassell, and Keldon Johnson tonight and was already running thin after losing reserve center Charles Bassey earlier this month. That takes five of the team’s best rebounders out of the equation for tonight.
Branham’s rebounding total seems too low considering he’ll log major minutes and not have to battle for boards with some of the Spurs’ top glass cleaners. His last 10 rebounding props have been parked between 3.5 and 4.5 and Branham has gone Over that prop in three straight games and seven of those appearances.
My best bet: Malaki Branham Over 4.5 rebounds (+110)
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Spurs vs Pelicans spread analysis
After splitting a pair of games in Houston, oddsmakers installed New Orleans as low as a 8-point home chalk hosting San Antonio on Tuesday.
But when the Spurs announced their plans to sit starters Zach Collins, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Jeremy Sochan, and listed Devonte' Graham as questionable, the market moved aggressively to as big as Pelicans -13 early Tuesday morning.
New Orleans is desperate for a win after dropping outside of the play-in tournament with a rotten run of games since the All-Star break. The Pelicans can put some of the blame on road-heavy schedule the past two months, with Tuesday’s tilt being just the seventh home stand in the past 16 games overall going back to February 13.
NOLA is a much better team inside the Smoothie King Center, with a 22-13 SU record as hosts (16-19 ATS) and a net rating of +4.5 — compared to -3.1 on the road. It’s the Pelicans’ defense that sees the biggest boost in front of the Big Easy faithful, owning a home defensive rating of 110.8 (11th) while checking visitors to an average of just 110.2 points, more than six points less than on the road.
San Antonio isn’t a great team at full strength, let alone digging deep into a shallow talent pool with a number of starters sitting tonight. The Spurs have been playing competitive basketball in recent outings, however, and could be on a four-game winning streak (3-1 ATS) if not for overtime losses to Memphis and Dallas last week.
Considering the names mentioned to be out or questionable tonight, San Antonio could be without as much as 78% of its scoring prowess for an offense that already struggles to find the basket. The Spurs rank 29th in offensive rating on the season and score less than 111 points per road game — leading to a dismal 11-22 ATS mark as visitors.
Spurs vs Pelicans Over/Under analysis
The Over/Under number has also seen major adjustments with San Antonio sitting a good chunk of its top talent. This total hit the board as high as 235.5 points and has sunk to 232 as of Tuesday mid-morning.
As mentioned, the Spurs could be missing almost 88 combined points in terms of scoring averages with the players listed as out or questionable at the moment. San Antonio doesn’t pack much of a punch in points at full strength and very much struggles on the road, so that slight downtick in the total may not seem like enough.
As bad as San Antonio is on offense, it’s even worse on defense. The Spurs are dead last in defensive rating and give up a league-high 124.3 points per game as a visitor. Again, this is with their regular rotation and not the zombie squad Pop will roll out tonight. However, I should note their bench sits near the top of the league in minutes and points per game (19.9 minutes/42.1 ppg). So, there’s that...
NOLA tightens the bolts defensively at home, while the offense sees a minor uptick in production, putting up just over 114 points per contest inside the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans have been one of the better Under bets in the NBA since late January, going 8-17 Over/Under in that span including a 3-9 O/U count since the All-Star break.
These Western Conference foes haven’t faced off since before the New Year, with a trio of games in November and December. New Orleans won each of those matchups with a 2-1 O/U mark against a Spurs roster that has changed since the trade deadline.
Spurs vs Pelicans betting trend to know
The Under is 8-2 in the Pelicans’ last 10 overall. Find more NBA betting trends for Spurs vs Pelicans.
Spurs vs Pelicans game info
|Location:||Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA|
|Date:||Tuesday, March 21, 2023|
|Tip-off:||8:00 p.m. ET|
|TV:||Bally Sports SW-SA, Bally Sports New Orleans|