Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans Betting Predictions

Utah Jazz vs New Orleans Pelicans Regular Season NBA
Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans Betting Predictions

The Jazz and Pelicans officially open up the NBA bubble in Orlando on Thursday with the first game of the restart. Zion Williamson had to leave the bubble for a family emergency, but he’s back and in the re-quarantine process. If he can play as expected, it’ll be hard to bet against New Orleans in this game.

Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans Betting Predictions Betting Odds

As with all of the sports resuming this week, it’s unclear how crisp all the players will be as they slowly acclimate to their new life. That is certainly true for the first game of the NBA restart in Orlando, which pits the Utah Jazz against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. EST in a playoff seeding game.

The Pelicans are one of three teams tied for ninth place at 28-36 heading into the restart, and only one team will get a crack at being the No. 8 seed – assuming of course they stay within four games of eighth place. Every game is important for them to make the playoffs, and that sense of urgency makes them a dangerous team in the bubble.

The Jazz don’t have that same need for victories having already officially clinched a spot in the postseason already. They’re trying to hold onto a top-four seed with two teams just a game back of them, but any movement is likely to be minor, so they’re playing to tune up for the playoffs as much as anything else.

Utah will be without second-leading scorer Bojan Bogdanović, who had season-ending surgery on his right wrist in May. But all eyes will be on center Rudy Gobert, who will be tasked with trying to slow down Zion Williamson inside. Gover is averaging 15.1 points and 13.7 rebounds per game this season, but his biggest job will be denying Williamson touches near the basket.

Williamson should be on the court Thursday against the Jazz, but that is far from certain right now. The rookie center left the NBA bubble to deal with a family emergency, and re-entered the league’s protocol on Friday. He still needs to be cleared by the league after a four-day quarantine, but he tested negative on every test he took outside the bubble, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

The Pelicans had a winning record in the 19 games Williamson played this season and were nine games under .500 when he wasn’t active, proving how big of a difference he makes. Even without Williamson this year, the Pelicans have played the Jazz tough with an overtime win and a pair of two-point losses. So, the addition of Williamson on the court makes it easier for me to pick the Pelicans at -2.5 and -105 odds at 888Sport.

My Prediction

Pelicans -2.5

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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