Pelicans vs. Nets Betting Preview: How to Bet Zion Williamson's Return

Jacob McKenna previews how to bet Wednesday's season opening matchup between the New Orleans Pelicans and Brooklyn Nets.

Pelicans vs. Nets Odds

Pelicans Odds +3
Nets Odds -3
Over/Under 230.5 (-110 /-110)
Time 10 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The NBA season has officially begun, and Wednesday night brings us a battle between two teams with high expectations in the New Orleans Pelicans and the Brooklyn Nets.

Both New Orleans and Brooklyn made it to the postseason, but their championship hopes were short lived. The Nets were swept by the Celtics in four games, and the Pelicans took the Phoenix Suns to six games but ultimately lost the series.

With Zion Williamson and Ben Simmons both expected to be back on the court for their teams, this game has a chance to provide us with some playoff intensity early on in the season. Will we see that benefit Nets as they protect their home court, or will the Pelicans spoil Brooklyn’s season opener and steal a win on the road?

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Pelicans Getting Boost From Zion Williamson

The 2021-22 season looked like it was going to be one to forget for the Pelicans. New Orleans began the year by winning just one of its first 13 games, and would eventually see its record fall to 4-16 after the first month of the season.

Part of the reason was the absence of Williamson, who looked like he would eventually get on the court, but suffered set back after set back trying to get healthy. The lack of talent on the Pelicans roster at the time caused a free fall in the standings. However, the Pelicans never threw in the towel, and at the trade deadline made some key moves that will continue to hep them today.

Perhaps the biggest move was trading for CJ McCollum, who they acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers. McCollum played a huge role in New Orleans’ late season run, a stretch where the Pelicans went 14-12 in their final 26 games and scored an average of 116.7 points per game.

We really began to see this team come together at the end of the year, which was evidenced by their wins against the Spurs and Clippers in the Play-In Tournament, as well as staying competitive with the Suns in round one of the postseason.

Now, throw in a healthy Williamson alongside McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Herb Jones, and Jonas Valanciunas, and you have a roster that can hang with any team in the NBA.

Nets Have More Questions Than Answers

The offseason for the Brooklyn Nets was full of headlines, but they were not the headlines that an organization wants to have.

It all began when Ben Simmons did not play in Game 4 in their series against the Celtics, calling into question whether or not he truly wanted to play basketball and if he would be on the roster this season. Simmons would eventually go on to get back surgery, and now appears to be fully healthy, but we have to remember that this is his first regular season game in well over a year.

The biggest headline, however, involved another player that many thought might not be on the roster this season. That player was Kevin Durant.

Durant asked for a trade in the offseason, and it eventually got to a point where he said he would only stay if head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks were fired. As we all know, Nash is still the coach and Durant is also still on the roster, so it looks like KD created a mess that has a chance to stain this talented Nets roster.

Perhaps the only good news for the Nets in the offseason was the the vaccine mandate being lifted in New York, meaning that Kyrie Irving can play in every home game this season. That certainly gives the Nets an offensive edge over most teams, but I’m not sure his presence will make the difference tonight.

Pelicans-Nets Pick

The turmoil and drama that has hit the Nets organization over the last year has been more than one could ever imagine, and I think it will be a tough thing to overcome.

Ben Simmons not playing at all last season is going to play a big factor in many of the Nets games early on in the season. Missing that time affects how well him, Durant, Irving, and the rest of the offense build chemistry, and even though they had some playing time in the preseason, it is tough to simulate the pace and intensity of a regular season game.

Simmons will also take some time to knock off some rust, and he didn’t do much of that in the preseason as he averaged just 4.75 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.25 assists across four games.

The Nets are going to need to find some offense from Simmons, but I’m not sure he is quite ready yet to provide it. Brooklyn will also be without Seth Curry and Joe Harris in this game, which affects their scoring and ability to spread the floor even more.

Williamson is in a similar situation to Simmons, and there are some questions about the version of Zion we are going to get. However, I think it is more likely than anything else that we will see Williamson at his best, which is a guy who is averaging 26 points on 61% shooting for his career.

As a result, I think New Orleans has the chance to win this one outright. However, I’ll just take the points.

Pick: Pelicans +3