Jazz vs Pelicans Live: After a lengthy hiatus and a designated period for teams to ramp up and engage in scrimmages, the 2019-20 NBA season resumes with seeding games on Thursday. The first tilt of the renewed NBA schedule pits Zion Williamson, Jrue Holiday and the New Orleans Pelicans against Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz in a battle of Western Conference foes with major ambitions.
Who Play: Jazz vs Pelicans
When: Thursday, July 30, 3:30 PM ET
How to watch: Click Here
Tip-off for Pelicans-Jazz is at 6:30 p.m. ET in Orlando. William Hill lists the Pelicans as 2.5-point favorites, while the over-under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 222.5 in the latest Jazz vs. Pelicans odds. Before you make any Pelicans vs. Jazz picks and NBA predictions, see what SportsLine’s advanced computer model has to say.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and it’s already returned over $4,000 in profit on its top-rated NBA picks during the 2019-20 season. It also was a blistering 52-32 on all top-rated NBA spread picks before the coronavirus shutdown, returning almost $1,700 on those picks alone. Anybody who has followed it has seen huge returns.
Though the Jazz are short-handed as the bubble begins, Utah is still a potent team, headlined by the presence of star power with Mitchell and Gobert. Mitchell captains an offense that ranked in the top 10 of the NBA in overall efficiency before the shutdown, and Utah is the most efficient shooting team in the league.
On the other end, Gobert ensures that the Jazz have a strongly above-average defense, roaming the paint as the NBA’s most dominant rim-protector. While the Pelicans will put pressure on the Jazz with an explosive offense, New Orleans rates as a below-average defensive team across the board. That plays into the hands of the Jazz, with Utah also posting a strong 20-13 record away from Salt Lake City this season.
On paper, the Jazz have plenty of advantages, especially when consulting the season-long standings. However, the Pelicans were much better after a very slow start, posting a 22-14 record in the last 36 games and sporting a top-10 net rating in the NBA over that time period. Much of the heavy lifting was done by an explosive offense, with the Pelicans owning top-six marks in shooting efficiency and offensive rebounding.
With Williamson expected to play after a brief absence during the scrimmage period, the Pelicans appear to be at full strength. Even against Utah’s stingy defense, New Orleans is capable of putting up big numbers and utilizing prolific contributions from Williamson, Brandon Ingram and others.
SportsLine’s model is leaning over on the total, with Mitchell and Williamson both projected to exceed their season scoring averages. The model also says one side of the spread hits in well over 50 percent of simulations. You can only see that pick here.
Zion Williamson has not played an NBA game in more than 4 1/2 months. The New Orleans Pelicans rookie left the NBA campus for nine days because of what he called “an urgent family matter.” And he missed all of the Pelicans’ three scrimmages because of his nine-day absence and additional four days in quarantine.
Despite those obstacles, Williamson reported feeling no limitations for when the Pelicans (28-36) resume the season against the Utah Jazz (41-23) on Thursday at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex.
“I think I can play the whole game. I’m just a hooper,” Williamson said following practice Wednesday. “I don’t know nobody that is going to say, “No, I can only play 10 or 15 minutes at a time. I play the whole game if I have to. I’m a hooper.”
It does not appear Williamson will receive his wish. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry considered Williamson’s status to be “a game-time decision” after he spent the past two days practicing in light contact drills. If Williamson plays, he could be subject to a minutes restriction.
“That’s something that I would leave up to the medical staff. Obviously as a coach, you want him out there as much as we can have him out there,” Gentry said. “We have many guys who are more equipped to make those decisions than I am from a health standpoint and a minutes-played standpoint. It’ll be collectively something that we’ll sit down, talk about and try to figure out.”
The Pelicans have handled Williamson with care earlier in the season, but for different reasons. After he missed the first 44 games to recover from a surgically repaired right knee, Williamson averaged 25 minutes through his first five games. The Pelicans gradually increased his minutes through 10 games in February (30.6) and five games in March (33) before the NBA halted operations because of the coronavirus outbreak.
“I’m feeling a lot better physically,” Williamson said. “I was coming off an injury back in March and stuff like that to get myself going. But those couple of months off really helped. But I feel like I’m in a great spot.”
That is because Williamson had extensive conditioning, weight training and basketball workouts with his stepfather during quarantine. His progress stalled, though, once he left the NBA campus on July 15.