New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) practices before an NBA basketball game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Clippers in New Orleans, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. Williamson is expected to return to play Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) practices before an NBA basketball game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Clippers in New Orleans, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. Williamson is expected to return to play Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)|Associated Press
NBA

NBA Wednesday: Can Sixers finally beat Raptors in Toronto? Can depleted Nuggets hang with Rockets? Can Pelicans top Spurs in Zion's debut?

Greg Frank

Greg Frank

0-1 Tuesday, 69-75-1 overall.

Sixers (+6.5) @ Raptors (216)

Pick: Raptors -6.5

Give the Sixers credit for battling back after allowing 68 points in the first half on Monday in Brooklyn, they strapped up on defense in the final two quarters to win 117-111 over the Nets. It was arguably the best game of Ben Simmons’ young career as the Australian stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 34 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. However, with a tough Toronto team up next, at the end of a short road trip, we’re going back to the well and fading the Sixers. This is the third divisional foe on the trip for Philly and save for a good second half against the Nets, the Sixers haven’t been playing that well. They were sleepwalking at times in a 90-87 victory on Saturday against the Knicks, a game in which they did not cover. For whatever reason, Toronto is a house of horrors for the Sixers, who have not won North of the border in the regular season since 2012. With a potential look-ahead to Saturday’s showdown with the Lakers as well, the Sixers lose by double digits tonight.

Nuggets (+9) @ Rockets (228)

Pick: Rockets -9

So at first glance I was shocked to see this point spread close to double digits. Then when you look at Denver’s injury report, it gets a little easier to understand. Denver will be down Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee on Wednesday and Gary Harris is a game-time decision. The NBA is the most star-driven league of the four major professional sports and when you’re down several key contributors like Denver is tonight and are playing a team in Houston who has plenty of firepower, good luck. Then consider Houston got outscored 41-20 on Monday in the fourth quarter to lose a game it had no business losing against Oklahoma City, and we’d certainly expect the Rockets to come out pissed off. James Harden also went 1-for-17 from the three-point line in that game against the Thunder. A bad fourth quarter and a horrendous shooting night from Harden aren’t things we’d expect to repeat themselves tonight.

Spurs (+3.5) @ Pelicans (237.5)

Pick: Spurs +3.5

Our favorite play of the night comes in the Big Easy where we will fade the New Orleans Pelicans in the debut of Zion Williamson. We mentioned over the weekend we were expecting the Spurs to get hot and sure enough San Antonio enters this game off back-to-back wins against Miami and Phoenix. They’re right there with Memphis, even in loss column, for the final playoff spot and while New Orleans has been playing well, we’re not expecting the Pelicans to slow the Spurs down. The Pelicans are loaded with young players, most of whom haven’t played together before this season. Now they’re adding their supposed franchise cornerstone into the fold. There are going to be some growing pains for them as they go about figuring out the best version of themselves with Williamson in the lineup. Would you rather lay points with a team that likely has to take on a new identity or take points with a veteran team battling to make the playoffs again? The latter is a no-brainer for us.

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