Utah (27-7) at New Orleans (14-19)
When: Monday, March 1st, 2021
Where: Smoothie King Center,
New Orleans, LA
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: NBA TV
Opening Odds: Utah -8/234
This was supposed to be a break-out season for the New Orleans Pelicans, but in order to win in this league, you have to play defense. The Pelicans will look to get back on track when they begin a six-game homestand Monday night against the league-best Utah Jazz at Smoothie King Center. New Orleans has lost seven of their last 10 games after a 117-114 setback at San Antonio, who were missing five players for a sixth consecutive game because of COVID-19 protocols. The defensive struggles continued for the Pelicans on Saturday, allowing 67 first half points to the Spurs before clamping down in the second half. It was just the fourth time in the last 11 games that New Orleans has held an opponent below 120 points. Things will not get easy on Monday, as the Utah Jazz come in after avoiding what would have been just their second losing streak of the season. Utah got by the Orlando Magic 124-109 on Saturday after losing in Miami 124-116 the night before. The Jazz have not only won 23 of their last 26, but they’ve been blowing opponents away – 17 of their last 18 wins have come by double-digits. Utah owns a 3.5-game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference standings and will play seven of their next eight games away from home, surrounding the All-Star Break. The teams have already played twice this season with the Jazz taking both at home, 118-102 and 129-118. Utah has won six of the last seven meetings, going 5-2 ATS in that span. The over is also 5-2 in the last seven matchups.
After going scoreless in the first quarter, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell exploded for 31 points including 15 in the third quarter to help the Jazz pull away for another double-digit win on Saturday. Utah scored 70 points in the second half after leading by just four at the intermission. Joe Ingles had 17 points and seven assists while starting in place of point guard Mike Conley, who didn’t play because of right hamstring injury management. The Jazz are now 7-0 when Ingles starts for Conley. Three players scored in double-figures off the bench including Jordan Clarkson, who led all reserves with 18 points, while recording six rebounds and five assists in 28 minutes. The Jazz rank third in both scoring offense (116.2) and scoring defense (106.5). Utah will be at Philadelphia on Wednesday to conclude their first half schedule.
The Pelicans were led once again by Brandon Ingram and Zion Williams who scored 29 and 23 points respectively. Williamson also added 14 rebounds but turned the ball over four times and nine times in the last two games. Ingram’s 3-point shooting has been off lately, as he’s connected on just 3-of-17 over the last two games. Eric Bledsoe recorded his third-straight double-digit game with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting to increase his season average to 12.8 points per contest. The Pelicans are sixth in the league in field goal percentage (48.3) but shoot just 73.1 percent from the free-throw line – 28th in the NBA. New Orleans will have two more games before the break – Wednesday vs. Chicago and Thursday vs. Miami.
It’s hard to go against the Jazz right now. They are 22-4 ATS since a 3-5 ATS start to the season and they keep winning by double-digits. The Pelicans are a mess on defense right now and this should be another easy win for Utah. I’ll lay the points.
Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free NBA Picks page for today.
Pick: Jazz -7