NBA predictions and odds for Pistons vs. Pelicans, Thunder vs. Timberwolves, Hornets vs. Trail Blazers

NBA predictions
New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball’s improved play should keep the Pelicans alive for the Western Conference playoffs awhile. Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

A new week means more opportunities with our NBA predictions. All NBA predictions and odds are courtesy of FanDuel.

NBA predictions: Pelicans at Pistons (-2, 226 over/under), Monday at 7 p.m. ET (NBA League Pass)

Two teams seemingly going in opposite directions square off at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. The New Orleans Pelicans have won seven of their last 10 games. The improvement has a lot to do with guard Lonzo Ball playing the best basketball of his professional career.

Ball is averaging 18.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 8.4 assists per game on 48.1 percent shooting over his last seven games. Brandon Ingram has continued his hot start to the season and the Pelicans are expecting to have No. 1 NBA draft pick Zion Williamson make his debut within the next few games.

According to Mitch Lawrence of Sirius XM, Williamson could make his debut Thursday vs. the Utah Jazz.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Pistons have lost 11 of their last 14 games. Forward Blake Griffin just underwent knee surgery that will keep him out indefinitely. There isn’t much else here on this roster to be excited about other than center Andre Drummond.

Drummond can opt out of his contract this summer, so the Pistons have him on the trade block. So far, they haven’t had as much traction as they could have hoped in facilitating a deal.

The bottom feeders in the East, the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks have reportedly shown interest but it’s unclear if either team would actually be willing to give up assets to acquire the likely to be a free-agent center.

While New Orleans is playing a lot better, their defense has been atrocious all season long. The team gave up 140 points in their last game against the Boston Celtics and have allowed 117.1 points per game – second worst in the NBA.

Even with Drummond anchoring the paint, the Pistons have been a below-average defensive team. Shockingly, the Pistons have allowed 51.3 points per game in the paint, 25th in the NBA, so maybe they won’t lose much by trading Drummond.

Pelicans vs. Pistons predictions: Pelicans (+2), over 226 total points

NBA predictions: Thunder (-3.5, 219 over/under) at Timberwolves, Monday at 8 p.m. ET (NBA League Pass)

Another matchup with two teams seemingly heading in opposite directions, nothing has gone well for the Minnesota Timberwolves lately.

Losers of 15 of their last 20 games, the Timberwolves have badly missed their best player, Karl-Anthony Towns, who has missed the last 13 games with a sprained left knee. Towns has reportedly been ruled out Monday with an illness.

With Towns injured, nobody has stepped up for Minnesota. It was thought this could be a playoff season for them but at 15-23, the Timberwolves don’t look much different than last year’s record of 36-46.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder have won 16 of their last 22 games. The combination of veteran Chris Paul and second-year guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been lethal.

Many around the NBA expected the Thunder to be in sell mode this season with veterans like Paul, Steven Adams and Danilo Gallinari potentially on the move.

With a 22-17 record and current holders of the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, those plans may have changed.

It’s hard to bet on Minnesota with the way that they are going, even at home. I’m surprised the Thunder are only favored by 3.5 points here. The Timberwolves had problems before Towns got hurt but without him, they aren’t competitive as often as they’d like, especially against playoff-caliber teams like Oklahoma City.

In the 14 games**Towns has missed, the Timberwolves are shooting just 40.8 percent from the floor. It’s unclear where this team will find the offense they need.

Thunder vs. Timberwolves predictions: Thunder (-3.5), under 219 total points

NBA predictions: Hornets at Trail Blazers (-9.5, 216 over/under), Monday at 10 p.m. ET (NBA League Pass)

Has there been a more disappointing team this season than the Portland Trail Blazers? After keeping the core of the team that went to the Western Conference Finals last season, the Trail Blazers are just 16-24 this season.

Portland is allowing 113.8 points per game – 23rd in the NBA and scoring just 111.5 points per game. It’s hard to have a winning record when your defense is allowing more points than you’re scoring.

While the Charlotte Hornets aren’t the most talented team in the NBA, they’ve performed better than their talent may indicate. The team has trouble scoring most nights, averaging just 104.0 points per game – second fewest in the NBA — but maybe this bad Portland defense is just what the doctor ordered.

The Hornets still have guards like Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham who can make shots if they’re open. While I think Portland will win the game, 9.5 points is way too high for a team that has underachieved as much as the Trail Blazers have.

Seven of the last nine Trail Blazers games have been over 216 total points.

Hornets vs. Trail Blazers predictions: Hornets (+9.5), over 216 total points. 

Good luck with your NBA predictions.

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