Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans Pelicans
Time: 7 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: LAC -2.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The L.A. Clippers are 10-7 on the road this season and will travel to face the New Orleans Pelicans as 2.5 point favorites in the game.
The Pelicans are just 10-21 and are 3.5 games out of the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.
New Orleans lost Dec 28 to the Orlando Magic 104-89. Anthony Davis had a fairly good offensive game hitting 9 of 16 for 20 points, but he also allowed Orlando center Nikola Vucevic to post 28 points, seven assists and eight rebounds as Vucevic knocked down 14 of 21 from the field.
Davis may not have been Vucevic’s only defender, but the Pelicans had a lot of trouble with Tobias Harris and Andrew Nicholson as well. New Orleans is not a good defensive team this year, despite many components who pass the test as good defenders.
The Pelicans are 5-5 over its past 10 games, but are going to need a better run to contend for the 2016 postseason. Davis is averaging 23.5 points, 10.9 rebounds and 4.00 blocks/steals per game while posting a PER of 24.9. The Pelicans have ample threats around him with Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans, all of whom average 15 points per game or better.
New Orleans is averaging 102.1 points per game, but the Pels rank No. 29 in defensive rating, surrendering 110.2 points per 100 possessions.
New Orleans also allows 107 points per game to opponents while posting merely an average offensive rating in its own right of 105.1 (good for No. 13 in the NBA). Good offense and horrible defense results in losses, and the Pelicans are going to need to start clamping down on the defensive end if it is to revive this season.
Jrue Holiday has fallen off miserably with the injuries, and Ish Smith’s early season play has proven to be a mirage. Eric Gordon is playing well but is a free agent at season’s end and could certainly just be showcasing for a contract. Tyreke Evans has been a pleasant surprise in recapturing some of his early career brilliance, but the Pelicans are not getting consistent play from Omer Asik or Kendrick Perkins.
7-foot-2 center Alexis Ajinca has been good in limited minutes and should probably see the court more than 12 minutes a night.
The Clippers have won four straight games to improve to 20-13 on the season and it took out the Charlotte Hornets 122-117 last night as it put four of five starters in double figures, paced by J.J. Redick’s 26 points on 8 of 14 shooting including his 5 of 6 from three-point range.
Blake Griffin is out with a torn quadricep and is expected to miss the next two weeks. The Clips have been splitting his minutes between Paul Pierce and Wesley Johnson. Pierce scored 13 points and grabbed five boards in the win over Charlotte while Johnson contributed just two points.
Johnson is averaging 5.8 points per game on the season but he has had his moments shooting the ball. He is hitting 46.8 percent from the floor and 35.1 percent from three on 2.8 attempts per game. Johnson had 14 points in the Clippers win over the Washington Wizards on Dec 28, and he is averaging seven points per game over his last five.
Austin Rivers was brilliant in the win over Charlotte, going 7 of 11 from the floor and 4 of 6 from three for 22 points in 20 minutes. Rivers had essentially done nothing before that and had just four points in 19 minutes in the Wizards game, but his offensive talents are certainly defined at this point. Rivers is averaging 7.4 points and 1.3 assists per game in 22 minutes a night, but he is starting to show some of the potential that made him a 2012 lottery pick.
The Clippers will need random contributions from the likes of Rivers and Johnson if it is to account for the missing production of Griffin, otherwise these complementary talents’ performances would not be rendered as crucial.