The New Orleans Pelicans opened as 10-point favorites on the NBA odds at William Hill Sportsbook against the visiting Orlando Magic on Thursday, but that spread has plummeted to Pelicans -4 as they were will be most likely be without three starters in All-Star forward Zion Williamson, point guard Lonzo Ball and second-leading scorer Brandon Ingram. The first two are out, while Ingram is listed as doubtful, so he's most likely not playing.
Zion is absolutely dominating the league right now. The former No. 1 overall pick out of Duke is averaging 26.4 points on 62.4 percent shooting along with 7.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists. In his past 10 games, Williamson has jacked up those numbers to 29.0 points, 65.7 percent shooting along with 6.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists. He is one of two players in the league to be averaging at least 26.0 points on 55 percent shooting and 34.0 percent from deep.
Williams suffered a sprained thumb in Monday's victory in Boston, but that actually was great news as the Pels were worried it was something worse that would cost him multiple weeks. At 21-25 and 12th in the West, the Pelicans can ill afford to lose Zion for even one game as they try to at least get to 10th in the conference and earn a spot in the play-in tournament.
Ingram is dealing toe inflammation, and it's almost as if the Pelicans are willing to punt on this game – team officials may think they can beat the awful Magic regardless – and perhaps have Ingram and Williamson available Friday vs. Atlanta. Ingram is averaging 23.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
Ball, meanwhile, will miss a sixth straight game with a strained right hip flexor. Nickeil Alexander-Walker has been starting in his place and has played quite well as the Pelicans have won four of five.
Orlando doesn't list anyone notable on the injury report that we didn't know already was out. This is the first meeting of the season between the teams. The Magic won two high-scoring matchups last season and have covered the spread in four straight matchups. New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy used to be in the same role for five seasons with Orlando.
Thankfully, I picked the Magic when they were still -10 before the Zion/Ingram news became official ... it had been rumored both would sit (Ball was presumed out). Sometimes, you have to take a chance injury-wise to get the best betting value.
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