Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
When: 6:00 PM Pacific Time
How to Watch/Listen: Fox Sports Network, 570 AM
Projected Starting Lineups
Pelicans: Jrue Holiday — J.J. Redick — Kenrich Williams — Brandon Ingram — Jaxson Hayes
Clippers: Patrick Beverley – Kawhi Leonard – Paul George – Moe Harkless – Ivica Zubac
Pelicans: Josh Hart and Jahlil Okafor (QUESTIONABLE); Derrick Favors (left lower back spasms), Darius Miller (right Achilles surgery) and Zion Williamson (right knee scope) are OUT
Clippers: Landry Shamet (Ankle) Out
The Big Picture
The Clippers’s 10-1 record at home to start the season is a franchise record, so it feels greedy to say Clips Nation should expect a win, but I’m going to say it anyways. The Pelicans will be coming off of an evening game in Utah, while the Clippers get Saturday night off. The Pelicans are still dealing with injuries as well (although they’ve had a few guys come back in recent days).
But not only should the Clippers win, they also (kind of) need to. This will be their fifth straight home game in eight days — a pretty generous home stand and a part of the schedule that the Clippers need to feast on to pad their record for a rainy day. Moreover, it would be nice to see the Clippers win in convincing fashion after three very tight, hard-fought victories so they can get Kawhi and others some rest before they flight out to Dallas.
In respect to match-ups, the Clippers will need to focus on stopping Ingram and Holiday, of course, which should be doable between Beverley (who sat out the first meeting), George, and Kawhi. When they first played, the Clippers lost the rebounding battle 52-37, including letting the Pelicans collect 19 offensive rebounds. And in a game that was decided by only five points, we can pretty much say that rebounding was the difference. Kawhi and Beverley playing this time around should help, but we also need Zubac to get more than the 12 minutes.
As mentioned above, the Clippers are getting it done at home, so perhaps this could be a “trap” or “look ahead” game, in which they come out flat on a Sunday night expecting to win and can’t pull off the late game heroics once again. The Clippers have also had foul trouble recently (most egregiously against the Rockets on Friday), so they will need to find a way to maintain their aggression without putting the Pelicans on the line.
Moving the ball: After the Friday’s game, I was surprised to see that the Clippers are 20th in Assists per game (22.9), 22nd in Assist Percentage (56%), and 19th in three point percentage (34.8%). These obviously are related to some extent, given that the Clippers rely on pick-and-roll and drive-and-kick actions. The Clippers, through the will of star power, have been able to come away with wins regardless of these issues, but with George and Kawhi now healthy and playing together, Doc really needs to figure out how to smooth these issues out so they can realize their full potential.
The “Second” Guards: With Shamet still sidelined with his ankle injury, the “second” line of guards have had to fill in. Jerome Robinson, Rodney McGurder, and Terance Mann have all shared the duties of backing up Beverly and Lou, but a clear fourth guard has yet to be appointed. McGurder has been helpful on the defensive end, while Robinson has more upside offensively. In tonight’s game, I’m hoping one of them comes alive so Doc can solidify his rotation and get Kawhi and George regular rest. So far, it seems like he is sending guys back and forth without much consistency.