The New Orleans Pelicans hope to get back on track against the talented Clippers.
The New Orleans Pelicans will need to have short memories after dropping a winnable game against the Utah Jazz.
They have no time to pout, as the Clippers are up next and won’t be any easier.
When the seeding game schedule was released last month, every Pelicans’ fan ran through the schedule and checked off wins and losses. This game was penciled in as a loss at the time, but many things have changed since then.
Zion Williamson left the bubble for a family emergency but has since returned and none of the other Pelicans have left Orlando or been forced to re-quarantine.
The Clippers have been the opposite side of the coin in that respect. Five players from the team, Landry Shamet, Ivica Zubac, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell have either been late to the bubble or had to leave for a family emergency. The impact on that missed time could be huge in this game.
How much rust those Clippers need to shake off will be a key component.
But that’s the kicker for LA, they don’t need to win many games before the playoffs actually start. The Clippers can use these eight games to round into form and get accustomed to each other again. The biggest part of that is getting Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the same page.
In a way, both teams were similar in how neither played at full strength for much of the season. For the Clippers that was by design, resting Kawhi and PG as much as possible during the regular season while still keeping them sharp so they could be most effective for the playoffs.
The Pels were shorthanded for much of the season but that was due mainly to injuries, most notably the absence of Zion until late January. Once Zion suited up for the New Orleans Pelicans they were much improved and fielded the best starting five in the NBA.
The New Orleans Pelicans need this game more than the Clippers.
The Pelicans need every win they can get to keep pace with the Grizzlies and Trailblazers in the hopes of forcing a play-in series for the eighth playoff spot. In their first game against the Jazz, the Pels lost in a nail-biter 106-104 although there are some silver linings from that game.
Zion only played 15 minutes and while he was efficient in scoring (6-8 FG), he didn’t pull down a single rebound in his time. That minutes restriction was to be expected after he missed all three scrimmage games.
The Clippers had to deal with a really tough opening game against the Lakers. We got to watch another close game on opening night of the restart with the Lakers hanging on to win 103-101. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard looked pretty decent in their first game and the team didn’t have Lou Will and Pat Bev only played 16 minutes.
Both teams should look better in their second games as they had the opportunity to shake off some of the rust and get some real action under their belt.
Oddsshark.com has the Clippers as 4.5 point favorites for this game and while that line could change between my writing this piece and tip-off, it won’t move very far. Two of the three games played by these teams this season were won by five or fewer points so that line seems to be pretty fair.