Pelicans vs. Jazz NBA Preview

Mike Conley #10 of the Utah Jazz.  Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images/AFP
Mike Conley #10 of the Utah Jazz. Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images/AFP

The Utah Jazz are on a roll. The New Orleans Pelicans, not so much. Only one can go in your NBA picks, but are the lines too tight?

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Utah Jazz

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Maybe Mike Conley still has some juice left in him after all. It looked like the Utah Jazz had bought damaged goods when they acquired Conley from the Memphis Grizzlies two years ago, in exchange for multiple players and a first-round pick; however, after a disappointing 2019-20 campaign, Conley (plus-4.0 BPM) is playing some of the best ball of his career, and the Jazz lead the NBA’s Northwest Division at 9-4 SU and a healthy 8-5 ATS.

They’ve also got a decent shot at beating the NBA odds this Tuesday when they host the New Orleans Pelicans, who are struggling to get off the ground at 5-7 SU and ATS. Utah opened as 6.5-point favorites, but FiveThirtyEight projects them to win by seven points. That half-point difference isn’t really enough for us to recommend opening up those wallets and/or purses, though. Let’s turn our attention instead to the Under, which is 9-4 for the Jazz this year and 6-5 for the Pellies. To the pickmobile!

Get Thy Bearings

Conley may have rediscovered his form of late, but as we saw last year, anything he does seems to be at the expense of Donovan Mitchell (plus-0.2 BPM). Don’t be fooled by Mitchell’s raw numbers; yes, he’s scoring 24.9 points per game, and hitting a career-high 37.4 percent from downtown, but everything else about his play has regressed while Conley’s has improved. Jordan Clarkson (plus-4.5 BPM), of all people, has become the better backcourt partner. Maybe some spacing would help. Bojan Bogdanovic (minus-4.6 BPM) seems to have fallen off a cliff, hitting a career-low 39.1 percent from the field, and Joe Ingles (minus-0.6 BPM) has missed three games with a sore Achilles. This means more minutes for Georges Niang (minus-4.2 OBPM, minus-0.9 DBPM), who’s down to 31.0 percent from long range this year after two useful seasons off the bench. It could be the small sample size talking, of course. Positive regression could help Utah’s cause and spoil our NBA picks.

One Ball Man

The Pelicans have spacing issues of their own. They’re No. 26 in the league with a 33.4-percent success rate from behind the arc, and No. 28 in 3-point attempts; point guard Lonzo Ball (minus-3.3 BPM) has seen his long-range accuracy drop to 30.8 percent, thanks in part to multiple knee injuries, and J.J. Redick (minus-4.1 BPM) might finally be washed at age 36. It was a good run. Combine all that poor shooting with the slow pace at which both these teams operate, put them in the thin Salt Lake City air, with Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert (plus-1.2 DBPM) patrolling the paint for Utah, and you’ve got the recipe for an Under.

NBA Pick: Under 218 (–109) at DraftKings