Wow. I’m writing this with a smile. After nearly 5 months, basketball is back, bubble style. In this matchup, the New Orleans Pelicans “travel” to play the Los Angeles Clippers. While both of these teams are coming off of losses in their bubble openers, they were both close losses, and neither was at full strength. The Clippers were missing Lou Williams and Monttrez Harrell, and Zion Williamson was limited to 15 minutes.
As currently constructed, the Clippers are one game above the Nuggets for the #2 seed in the Western Conference. If you ask the Clippers, they probably don’t care which seed they get, as long as they don’t fall to #4. The reason being is that unless they drop two spots, they won’t play the Lakers until the Conference Finals. For the Pelicans, the stakes are different. They sit four games out of the eighth seed, and must be within 3.5 games to get into the “play in round”.
The Pelicans must unleash ZionIn their opener, the Pelicans lost 106-104 to the Utah Jazz. They competed most of the game, and even held a big lead. The problem for them? They didn’t play Zion Williamson enough minutes, choosing to ease him back in after his absence from the bubble. That didn’t workout, and in only 15 minutes, Zion scored 13 points. It could be assumed that if he played his normal minutes, the Pelicans would’ve won, but they chose to take no chances. It might come back to haunt him.
If the Pelicans don’t make the playoffs this season, the rest of the league will breathe a sigh of relief. This is an absolutely talented team, with young potential stars at every position, and some savvy veterans to round out. Starting with Zion, the Pelicans pair him with Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. These three have the potential to form a big three of their own, and they can use this stage in Orlando to flourish...that is, if the coaching staff gives Zion his minutes.
The Clippers need to get through the bubble healthyThe Clippers know that if they’re not the favorite for the title, they’re in the Top 3. In their opener, they lost to the Lakers, 103-101. However, this game could be taken with a grain of salt, however, as they were without Harrell and Lou Williams, two key bench pieces. It could be argued that if these two players played, the Clips would’ve won, but that’s a conversation for another day. With the #1 seed out of the question, all the Clippers have to do is stay afloat and avoid dropping to the four seed.
Reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard knows what it takes to get it done. He already has two titles under his belt, and is looking to be one of the first players to win a Finals MVP on three teams. His road this season will be tough, as the Lakers are better than they’ve been this decade, and if they make the Finals, the Bucks are most likely going to be waiting for them. All that being said, they should like their chances with Kawhi being flanked by Paul George, and having the most talented supporting cast in basketball.
- The Clippers are 1-5 ATS last 6 Saturday games.
- 6-2 ATS last 8 vs. Clippers
- 4-1 ATS last 5 Saturday games.
- 23-11-2 ATS last 35 overall.