How much more chaos can be thrust into an already tumultuous season?
For the second time in just over a week, a MVP candidate suffered a serious injury that will cause him to miss an extended period of time. LeBron James is going to be out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain, and just like that the door has been kicked open for Nikola Jokic to win his first Maurice Podoloff Trophy.
FanDuel was the first book to re-post MVP odds following the injury, and it was no surprise to see Jokic on top of the board at + 110 to win the award, as he has widely been considered the third horse in the race for a majority of this season. Joel Embiid and James followed at + 550 and Giannis Antetokounmpo at + 750 was the fourth choice. What was surprising was when Draft Kings and PointsBet opened their MVP markets back up with Jokic as the -110 odds-on favorite! It’s not that Jokic is not deserving, but in a race as deep as this how can anyone be confident any player has more than 50% chance of winning this award?
Updated injury reports can be found here.
Updated odds for every game can be found here.
*Indicates team is on second leg of back-to-back
The Main Event
New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets (-5.5, 234)
After getting two days off to lick their wounds, the Pelicans are in Denver to take on a Nuggets team that is on an 8-1 SU/6-3 ATS run. It is a stark contrast from New Orleans which lost both games in its series with Portland and is 3-7 SU/4-6 ATS in its previous 10 contests. As usual, the Pelicans’ poor defensive play has led them down this path.
The team has averaged 115.9 points every 100 possessions during this slide, the seventh-best offensive rating in the league over that stretch, but they have allowed 116.5 per 100 possessions and that has led to a negative net rating (-0.6) with a losing record. Nothing has changed for New Orleans, and with 31 games left on the schedule it is clear nothing will change. If they refuse to play defense, then how do they contain Denver? The Nuggets have averaged 120.4 points per 100 possessions during this nine-game run and seem primed to pick apart one of the worst defenses in the league.