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Clippers vs. Pelicans Preview: Rising Pels Are No Easy Out

The Clippers have won two games in a row, but will now need to show their improved mettle away from Staples Center.

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Game Information

Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana

When: 12:30 PM PT

How to Watch/Listen: ABC, AM 570

Projected Starting Lineups

Clippers: Patrick BeverleyLandry ShametKawhi LeonardMoe HarklessIvica Zubac

Pelicans: Lonzo BallJosh HartBrandon IngramNicolo MelliDerrick Favors

Injuries

Clippers: Paul George Out (Hamstring), Moe Harkless Questionable (Back)

Pelicans: Zion Williamson Out (Knee), Darius Miller Out (Achilles), Jrue Holiday Out (Elbow), Kenrich Williams Out (Back), JJ Redick Questionable (Hamstring), Jahlil Okafor Out (Back)

The Big Picture

The Clippers are coming off not just back to back wins, but the best consecutive performances they’ve put together in over a month. Now, the Cavs and Magic are not world beaters, but it was the effort and crispness of execution that stood out, especially against a decent-enough Magic team that’s actually very good defensively. Kawhi Leonard and Lou Williams have carried the Clippers of late, with both guys scorching hot from the field and cooking defenders in a variety of ways. Meanwhile, Ivica Zubac and JaMychal Green have stepped up defensively, helping the Clippers get back to a top five defensive efficiency rating on the season. For all the worries about the Clippers, they are top five on both ends of the court, an extremely good indicator for their overall potency and chances of winning the title.

The Antagonist

The Pelicans have had one of the best records in the NBA in the new year, powered by a surging Brandon Ingram and a healthy Derrick Favors. Favors might be the most important player on the Pelicans, a fearsome rim protector and rebounder who has turned around the Pelicans’ fortunes on defense and saved what had been the worst unit on that end of the court to start the year. Ingram is a budding star capable of dropping 30 points on any given night due to his vastly improved shooting, and might be in the All Star conversation if he was in the Eastern Conference. Other Pelicans have stepped up as well, with Jaxson Hayes operating as a rim runner, E’Twaun Moore as a floor spacer, and Josh Hart as a 3 and D wing. The Pelicans’ overall record is still grim, but their team is coming together, and when Zion Williamson makes his long-awaited debut in a few days they could be quite good.

Notes

Pat Beverley Heating Up: Just like last year, Pat started off the year ice cold, shooting 15.4% from three in October and 32.7% in November. And, just like last year, the cold shooting affected him negatively, causing him to pass up open shots and halt the offense. In the months of December and January, Pat has connected on over 40% of his threes, and is pulling up far more confidently that he was previously. More importantly, his hot shooting has opened up the playmaking element of Pat’s game – he’s averaging 7.6 assists per game in the month of January, and the Clippers offense has looked far better with him at the controls. When Pat is playing well, the Clippers are a much more dangerous team.

JJ vs Sham: Old friend J.J. Redick is questionable for this game, but if he does play, it will be interesting to watch he and Landry Shamet go up against one another. Shamet is one of the closest players we’ve seen to J.J. due to his ability to constantly run around the court and create open shots, as well as his pure ability to shoot the ball from distance. Hilariously, both players also struggle to defend players with similar styles, as JJ frequently can’t keep up while Shamet loses his man or commits fouls on the three-point shots. It’s always fun to watch similar players go up against one another, and Shamet against Redick would be particularly enjoyable for Clips fans.

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