Will Zion Williamson’s Pelicans once again play in a game that goes over the total on Thursday night? (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire)
- The Bucks and Pelicans meet on national television Thursday night, should we expect an offensive slugfest?
- New Orleans overs are 19-8-1 this season – best in the NBA
- See the odds and exploration of the trends for tonight’s matchup below
Zion Williamson vs Giannis Antetokounmpo will get all the hype. The over vs. the under will not – except in certain circles, because it should.
The New Orleans Pelicans are an NBA-best 19-8-1 hitting the over, which says as much about their defense as it does about their offense – which has been humming better than ever recently as Williamson has been averaging nearly 27 points per game. That’s an eight-point improvement over what he was doing in December.
Williamson and Antetokounmpo are both All-Stars, and the Pelicans will be going up against a Milwaukee team that is second in the NBA in scoring at 119.8 points per game. The Pelicans average 114.8, but their last 20 games have included both teams scoring at least 100 points. Not since Jan. 15 against the Lakers in a 112-95 loss had one of the two teams in a NOLA game failed to reach 100 points.
The total for tonight’s tilt on TNT has been set at 242.5 (it opened at 240), and the sharps will likely pound it higher as the day moves along. That, of course is what sharps do, but will the teams go over as the Pelicans so often do? (The over covered by 7.5 Friday against Boston and by 14.5 Friday against Phoenix.)
Bucks vs Pelicans Odds
|New Orleans Pelicans||+300||+8.5 (-110)||Over 242.5 (-112)|
|Milwaukee Bucks||-375||-8.5 (-110)||Under 242.5 (-112)|
Odds taken from FanDuel on February 25th
TNT Games Bring Out the Best
The entire NBA universe has been wired for several years to build their Thursday nights around TNT games. For many, many years, Thursday was the only national TV night before ESPN gained broadcast rights and started televising Wednesday doubleheaders regularly.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 25, 2021
The TNT crew and production are broadly viewed as superior, and with commentators Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal allegedly paying attention (Shaq does not always do so), the players on the court are well aware that their NBA elders are watching and opining on their performances.
The result: they try a little harder, even on the defensive end. But with that being said, the NBA’s rules changes in recent years have gutted one-on-one defensive strategies, which is one of the reasons why scoring continues to rise every season.
On Wednesday night, it was pretty much an even split, a sign that the bookmakers have caught up to the high-scoring trend. But there continue to be outlier days.
Will Zion Be Monstrous Again?
That is a crucial equation in the sports gambling world. Aside from Bobby Portis, they have no one who can defend him. Zion went 13-for-16 against the Pistons last night, and he is shooting above 50 percent in 12 off 13 games this month, at 66.5 percent.
Portis will probably get the assignment off the bench, because Khris Middleton is too slight to stop him. But the Bucks also have to worry about Lonzo Ball, and Eric Bledsoe – who will be especially stoked in returning to play against his former team.
Keep Riding the Pelicans Over Trend?
The over/under on Giannis’ point total is 32.5, a product of him scoring 38 and 37 in his previous two games. He is +270 to record a triple-double, whereas Zion is +5500 (his next one will be his first of the season.)
The game total is intriguing not only because the Pelicans are an aforementioned 19-8-1 hitting the over after killing it by 14.5 points last night against the overmatched Pistons. Again, you almost never see a team hitting more than two-thirds of their over/unders, but NOLA is doing it.
The Pelicans are +2800 to win by 11 or more, which is something to look at given their point production – along with the fact that the Bucks are due for a dud. They have lost by double digits to the Heat (twice), Jazz (twice), Hornets and Raptors, and NOLA beat them by five in their previous matchup, a game that totalled 151 points.
An upset is a possibility, and if it is a blowout in NOLA’s favor there are extraordinary wagering opportunities involving the Pelicans.
Chris Sheridan has been covering sports gambling since 2018 when PASPA was overturned. a veteran journalist with 30+ years experience covering sports for the Associated Press, ESPN, SheridanHoops and BasketballNews.com, he has been at the forefront of sports gambling coverage since it was legalized.