The New Orleans Pelicans (4-5) enter tonight’s game against the LA Clippers (7-4) having lost three in a row. The latest was a 118-110 loss at home against the Hornets in a game that the Pelicans led by 18 in the second quarter. The culprit this time was 19 turnovers, which led to 27 points for Charlotte. Zion Williamson scored 26 in the loss, while Josh Hart added 19 points.
The Clippers have been winning every other game for about two weeks now, including a win in their last game against the Bulls 130-127. Kawhi Leonard hit five three pointers in the third period, which sparked a run for the Clippers. Leonard finished the game with 35 points and seven made three pointers. Paul George added 28 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists in the win. In all, the Clippers hit 20 treys while shooting 52.6% from beyond the arc.
Injuries are not expected to be a factor. The Clippers have no players on their injury report, while Steven Adams was questionable for the Pelicans’ last game with a migraine. He is expected to play against the Clippers.
Despite the Clippers being the moderate favorites, early money is trending toward the Pelicans. We will dive into the reasons why this might be.
Pelicans Must Improve the Little ThingsLittle things are keeping the Pelicans from jumping into the upper tier of teams in the Western Conference. With budding stars in Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, and crafty veterans like JJ Reddick and Eric Bledsoe, the Pelicans have the talent to compete with the upper echelon of teams in the NBA. Competing and winning consistently are two different things, however, and those are separated by doing the little things right. Like defensive rotations, shot selection, and rebounding. Small breakdowns at critical junctures in games is the reason for the 4-5 start. Things won’t get easier tonight against the Clippers.
Start with offense, where the Pelicans rank 22nd in effective field goal percent (51.6%). Ingram leads the team in scoring with 24.0 ppg, while adding 7.1 rpg and 5.8 apg. Williamson has averaged 21.9 ppg and 8.1 rpg. Eric Bledsoe (11.8 ppg) leads the team with 37.8% from beyond the arc. That percentage tells you everything you need to know about the Pelicans. New Orleans lacks that volume knock down three point shooter.
New Orleans is fourth in the league in offensive rebounding percentage at 25.6, and is seventh in free throws per field goal attempts. Defensively, the Pelicans are 18th in the league in opponent’s effective field goal percent (53.7), and first in the league in defensive rebounding percent (82.9).
Clippers Look To Keep Pace In Pacific DivisionThe Clippers are currently tied for second in the loaded Pacific Division standings after their win over the Bulls on Sunday. Los Angeles has relied on consistent play from Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. George (25.0 ppg/6.3 rpg/5.4 apg) and Leonard (24.4 ppg/4.9 rpg/5.7 apg) lead the way offensively while Serge Ibaka (12.3 ppg/6.8 rpg) holds down the paint. A host of role players like Nicholas Batum and Patrick Beverly stand ready to make defenses pay when they over rotate to cover Leonard or George.
While the Clippers are solid, ranking in the upper half of the league in the four factors (effective field goal percent, turnover percent, offensive rebound percent, FTs per field goal attempts). The Clippers are fourth in effective field goal percent (55.8) and 13th in free throws per field goal attempts (.198). The Clippers are 25th in opponent’s effective field goal percent (55.5) and 23rd in free throws per field goal attempts (.217).
- Los Angeles: Clippers are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games as a home favorite.
- Los Angeles: Clippers are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 home games.
- New Orleans: Pelicans are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 Wednesday games.
- New Orleans: N/A