The Zion Williamson show finally goes on the road on Tuesday. The New Orleans Pelicans head to Cleveland for a game with the Cavaliers. An away crowd will finally get a look at the phenom that is Zion, and vice versa. The Pelicans have lost two of his three starts at home. Tip-off is set for 7:30 pm ET at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Zion mania was running rampant until the recent news of NBA legend Kobe Bryant’s passing overtook the news cycle. Williamson will look to capture some of that mania back, and maybe a little of that Kobe magic on Tuesday night.
The Cavaliers will need every ounce of their home crowd to thwart the excitement around this kid. New Orleans is an eight-point favorite, with an over/under of 233.
Staying In Contention
New Orleans sits 13th in the Western Conference standings, coming in with an overall record of 18-29. Williamson has only played three games on the season so far, but did the Pelicans do enough to stay in contention for the playoffs while he was out?
They sit only 4.5 games in back of the eighth spot, and much of that has to do with the improved play of Brandon Ingram.
Ingram is averaging 25 points per game this season, up from 16 and 18 in his previous two seasons. Unfortunately, the Pelicans don’t seem to be going the way Ingram goes, as they are 3-7 when he scores at least 30 points.
Offensively, they will figure it out. Defensively, well, hopefully, Zion was that missing piece, because the Pelicans’ defense currently ranks 28th in the league and is far from a postseason defense.
Seven Out of Eight Is Bad
The Cavaliers finally pulled a win out on Monday night, beating the Pistons 115-100, avoiding what would have been their eighth straight loss. It’s another season reminiscent of years past for Cleveland, a reminder of the first time LeBron James left.
On a positive note, second-year guard Collin Sexton has played well this season, averaging over 19 points per game.
Rookie point guard Darius Garland has also played well, putting up 12.3 points and 3.2 assists per game. Predictably, the Cavaliers are led offensively by Kevin Love, the walking double-double. He’s averaging 17.4 points and 10 rebounds.
Much like their opponent, the Cavaliers have struggled on defense. Unlike the Pelicans, the Cavaliers’ offense also ranks in the bottom five league-wide.
It may seem like a time to take advantage of a lopsided spread for a team on the road. Maybe Zion mania has taken over Vegas too, but there is a reason that the Pelicans are favored by eight on the road. That being said, Williamson has only played three games, all at home.
The Cavaliers are 8-8-1 against the spread as home underdogs this season, but they are no strangers to being the dog at home. The Pelicans are 2-1 against the spread as road favorites.
They’re also 23-22-2 against the spread overall, while the Cavs are well below .500 overall.