We’re up and down with NBA to start this season. We won with Houston at Indiana on Sunday but haven’t been able to catch fire yet. I was patient this week but think I’ve found a spot Friday when the Pelicans play in Denver.
The big news for the Pelicans this week was the return of Rajon Rondo. Rondo played five minutes in his team’s uncomfortably close win versus the Hawks. He played 14 and had eight assists on Wednesday in a home loss to Toronto. Reports are that he’s likely to play at least 20 minutes tonight in Denver.
The Pelicans can use all the help they can get in the backcourt but I’m skeptical that Rondo will prove to be a difference-maker. New Orleans’ floor spacing was already bad and it only gets worse with Rondo on the floor. Then there is the whether or not he will play well with DeMarcus Cousins. Both are volatile personalities that aren’t easy to please. Both players like playing with the ball, too. I see the pairing as an experiment that is more likely to fail than succeed but it’s probably worthwhile for the Pelicans to try.
Denver should get Garry Harris back tonight after he missed the last two games with a sore shooting shoulder. The Nuggets lost badly in Portland on Monday, where their bench got outscored 42–14. With Harris back in the starting lineup, Will Barton returns to the bench, where he leads a second unit that is typically strong.
Both teams start two big, versatile and talented bigs that will be a treat to watch go at each other. Cousins and Anthony Davis are putting up numbers we have never seen from a big-man combo. Together, they’re averaging over 53 points, 25 rebounds and seven stocks (steals+blocks). Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap don’t see the volume to come close to those numbers but they are both capable of playing with either tower in the Pelicans’ frontcourt.
All they have to do is provide the least big of resistance against Cousins and Davis because the rest of the Nuggets’ team is significantly better than the Pelicans. The Nuggets dropped a tough home game to the Wizards early this season but since then their only loss at the Pepsi Center came against the Warriors. This is one of the best home teams in all of basketball. My only fear about taking Denver tonight is that it seems almost a little too easy.
Free Pick: Denver -4