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NBA Play of the Day for January 24th, 2020

by January 24, 2020

The Denver Nuggets are set to take on the New Orleans Pelicans in what has become appointment television for NBA fans. Zion Williamson was electric in his NBA debut, and with Lonzo Ball running the point, we are all but certain to witness more fireworks from one of the NBA’s most highly anticipated rookies in the last decade. Regardless of what one thinks of Zion, there is no denying that he provided compelling television, which should result in an all-time viewership record for a New Orleans Pelicans regular-season game. Injuries have dictated the spread for this contest, and may very well decide which team covers. Let’s dig in.

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  • Opening Lines: The consensus point spread for this contest opened at -3 on the New Orleans Pelicans. The consensus over/under total opened at 231 points. The point spread has held climbed to -4. The over/under total has held steady at 231.
  • Current Line: New Orleans -4
  • O/U: 231
  • Location: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Start Time: 8:00 PM EST, Friday, January 24th
  • Last Meeting: New Orleans defeated Denver 112-100 – December 25, 2019


The banged-up 30-14 Denver Nuggets suffered a tough loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday and will be hoping to see the returns of Michael Porter Jr. and Gary Harris tonight. Jamal Murray has missed four games, Gary Harris has missed five games, Paul Millsap has missed eight games. Michael Porter Jr. and Mason Plumlee also missed Wednesday’s game against the Houston Rockets. Murray, Millsap, and Plumlee will miss tonight’s contest. Gary Harris is questionable but could return. Michael Porter Jr. was a late scratch due to back tightness and will be a game-time decision. Denver is a strong 13-8 on the road this season, but with Millsap and Murray out, this is a different team altogether. The Nuggets have slipped to fourth place in the Western Conference with their most recent loss and will be looking to make up some ground on the red hot Utah Jazz with a win over the New Orleans Pelicans tonight. Denver is all but assured to make the playoffs, but will need to get relatively healthy in short order if they truly have designs on recapturing the all-important second seed in the West.

The 17-28 New Orleans Pelicans just got a massive shot in the arm with the return of Zion Williamson. They lost his NBA debut, but his fourth-quarter heroics are what everyone is excited about. He scored 17 points in under eight minutes, a stretch that included four consecutive wide-open threes. He answered a major question about his game in draining four from deep, and if he can shoot over .400 from downtown, he is going to be able to quickly silence the majority of his doubters. The Pelicans are a poor 8-14 at home but will be hoping a raucous crowd can power them over a severely depleted Denver Nuggets team that was missing five rotation players on Wednesday. While the Pelicans do have a mathematical chance at the postseason, they should be looking toward the trade deadline and the 2020-21 season. The future is bright for the Pelicans, but with Zion back, some in the organization and fanbase may be pushing for the future to be now. It is going to be an exciting final 37 games of the season. 


  • New Orleans is 4-0 ATS in their last four contests against Denver. 
  • Denver is 0-6 ATS in their last six contests against New Orleans.
  • Over is 5-1 in the last six contests between these two teams played in New Orleans.
  • Denver is 18-22-4 ATS on the season. 
  • Denver is 9-10-2 ATS on the road this season.
  • New Orleans is 22-21-2 ATS on the season.
  • New Orleans is 12-10 ATS at home this season.
  • Denver is 5-5 ATS in their last 10 contests.
  • Denver is 5-0-2 ATS in their last seven contests following a loss. 
  • Denver is 4-1 ATS in their last five contests following a loss ATS.
  • Denver is 3-8-2 ATS in their last 13 contests against teams with a losing record.
  • New Orleans is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 contests.
  • New Orleans is 6-1 ATS in their last seven home contests. 
  • New Orleans is 4-1 ATS in their last five contests as a favorite. 
  • New Orleans is 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 contests.
  • Under is 6-2 in Denver’s last eight contests. 
  • Over is 7-3 in Denver’s last 10 road contests.
  • Under is 4-1 in Denver’s last five contests against teams with a losing record.
  • Over is 7-1 in Denver’s last eight contests against teams with a losing home record.
  • Over is 7-0 in New Orleans’ last seven home contests.
  • Over is 5-0 in New Orleans’ last five contests as a favorite. 
  • Over is 12-1 in New Orleans’ last 13 contests. 
  • Over is 4-0 in New Orleans’ last four home contests against teams with a winning road record.

Prop Bets 

Zion Williamson over 14.5 points (+102)
Zion scored 22 points in his NBA debut. He did the majority of his damage in the fourth quarter, a time when Alvin Gentry was myopically intent on pulling him from the game due to minute management, and quite possibly so the Pelicans would not complete the comeback. The Nuggets are the much better scoring defense, but in terms of actual percentages, the Spurs sit at .500, while the Nuggets sit at .483. Being on a minute restriction makes the under the smart play for Zion’s first couple of games, but as his NBA debut showed, his teammates are making a concerted effort to get him the ball, and if the Nuggets choose to dare Zion to beat them from deep as opposed to getting posterized in the paint, he will be able to hit his shots. Zion should jack up close to 15 shots regardless of how many minutes he plays, and should be able to cross this number even if he logs less than 25 minutes. Due to higher risk than most of the player props we tackle, keep this as a one unit play.

Bottom Line 

As alluded to above, this will be an exciting contest. From a betting perspective, this game and which side to place our action comes down to the Nuggets injuries. While they can still beat the Pelicans if all five players that missed Wednesday’s contest miss tonight’s contest, they could become the Vegas favorites if Harris and Porter Jr. get cleared. The Pelicans as favorites may be as much about generating action on them as it is what Vegas truly thinks of a contest that should probably be closer to a pick ‘em. With that being said, the early sharp action came in on the Pelicans and caused the opening consensus point spread of -3 on New Orleans, to move to -3.5. The Pelicans have trends, health, momentum, homecourt, and form on their side, and are the play if Porter Jr. and Harris do not get cleared. If either or both players get cleared, Denver will be too good of a value to pass up at the current line of +4. Keep your eye out for injury updates as the line for this contest could change in a blink of an eye when we get confirmation on the statuses for the injured Nuggets. Punch the Nuggets in as a one-unit play at -4 at DraftKings if Harris and Porter Jr. Tap the Pelicans at -3.5 at FanDuel if they are ruled out. 

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Pick: Denver Nuggets +4 (-109) 

Raju Byfield is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Raju, check out his archive, and follow him @FantasyContext.