- Jazz and Pelicans kick off the NBA’s regular season restart from the bubble in Orlando
- After stepping out of the bubble, Zion Williamson was cleared to practice and is a gametime decision
- See the odds, our analysis and best bets for the game below
For the first time since March 11, there will be meaningful NBA basketball played — albeit under the most irregular circumstances — when the Utah Jazz (41-23, 4th in West), meet the New Orleans Pelicans (28-36, T-10th in West) to restart the regular season.
Utah Jazz vs New Orleans Pelicans Odds
|Team||Odds at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Utah Jazz||+2.5 (-112)||+118||O 224.5 (-110)|
|New Orleans Pelicans||-2.5 (-108)||-138||U 224.5 (-110)|
Odds taken July 29. Tip-off is 6:30pm ET
There are 22 teams at Disney in Orlando as part of the “bubble” setup. New Orleans is one of five teams currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, trying to work their way into at least the ninth spot and within four games of the eighth seed, to earn a play-in opportunity.
Zion Questionable For Opener
A personal matter forced Williamson out of the bubble, forcing him to return to quarantine and get tested, but that kept him out of practice and in his hotel room, until today.
Gentry on Zion Williamson: He practiced some. We didn't do a whole lot today. He participated. … It'll be a game-time decision. … It will all depend on how he's feeling.
— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) July 29, 2020
It hasn’t affected the Jazz vs Pelicans odds, however, as NOLA (Zion or no Zion), is the betting favorite, which does come as somewhat of a surprise.
A superstar in waiting, Zion has averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds on a crisp 58.9% shooting in his 19 games this year.
Brandon Ingram WENT OFF 🔥
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 17, 2020
He’s got a budding star to run with in Brandon Ingram, one of the top candidates for the league’s Most Improved Player award. Ingram showed his wares while Williamson was sidelined, pouring in 24.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per contest, and drilling 8.7% of his threes on a career-high 6.3 attempts a game.
Three of his top scoring outputs have come against the Jazz, including a 49-point, 8-rebound, 6-assist gem in their last game on Jan. 16.
Obviously, the NBA would love to see the Pels sneak into the playoffs and get Zion more air time. Prior to the shutdown, NOLA had the easiest strength of schedule coming home, and that has carried over into this abbreviated regular season.
Utah Working For Title Run
The Jazz, however, are arguably New Orleans’ toughest foe of their eight games. They did much of their heavy lifting prior to the break, locking themselves into the playoffs. But more than refining X’s and O’s, Utah has team building at the top of mind.
News: Rudy Gobert says he and Donovan Mitchell have put their beef behind them.
H/T Mark Medina pic.twitter.com/6snqqltwT3
— Buckets Culture (@BucketsCulture) July 27, 2020
Rudy Gobert’s loose and easy antics surrounding Coronavirus eventually led to both himself and star teammate Donovan Mitchell contracting the illness, prompting conversations on whether the two mainstays of the Utah program would ever be able to play together again.
A really nice first half from Mike Conley, 15 points and 3 of 5 from deep. I think he's a guy that really can help to pick up the scoring that they are going to miss with Bogdanovic out. pic.twitter.com/s9x1d9HEx7
— Mo Dakhil (@MoDakhil_NBA) July 27, 2020
So far, they’ve looked good together in tuneup games. It will need to continue if Utah has hopes of getting deep into the playoffs, especially since Bojan Bogdanovic is out for the year with a wrist injury.
They’re hoping the break reinvigorated Mike Conley, who was a disaster in his first year with the Jazz. He was averaging 13.2 points per game on a rough 40.8% shooting from the field.
What’s the Best Bet?
New Orleans is a top-4 unit in points scored and rebounds per game, they are second in the league in assists and rank fifth in three-point shooting percentage. Alvin Gentry’s fun and gun system trails only the Bucks in pace.
They’ve been able to set the pace in every matchup with Utah year, as the teams have combined for at least 248 points in each of their three games. On a fun side note, it would be the first time Zion plays the Jazz in the regular season, which means a potential meeting at the summit with Gobert.
Zion's been impressive all pre-season but this play stood out to me. Pelicans run zipper action into a post up. Zion 1v1 against Gobert, goes right at him spins and draws a foul. He gets downhill quick and always tries to hit first. pic.twitter.com/OsBYUmb4HA
— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) October 12, 2019
Utah was 2-1 in their season series before the shutdown. Even if their defense isn’t as dominant as it’s been in years past, they are a top-10 team in both points allowed per game and points in the paint. Conversely, the Pelicans are surrendering 117 points a game, which is fourth-worst in the NBA.
Utah is a legit top-4 seed, and that will shine through and earn you the most value.
The pick: Jazz (+118) and O 224.5 (-110)
Let's have fun and keep it civil.