The Pelicans face a daunting slew of opponents over the next two weeks, yet no challenge seems more disheartening than the one immediately following the Jazz on the second night of a back to back than in the Los Angeles Clippers.
Yes, the Pelicans did earn a victory over these same Clippers just over one week ago, albeit without last year’s Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard. Paul George was his typical remarkable self in his return to action after having two cybernetic shoulders installed. 33 points, nine rebounds and four assists later on 10/17 shooting was almost enough to upend the Pelicans, but the Pelicans were unstoppable offensively, scoring 132 points as a result of 52.9 percent three-point shooting.
In addition to the return of Leonard, the Pelicans face another tremendous obstacle. While they should have Ingram in this matchup, they will not have Derrick Favors who thoroughly dominated the Clippers to the tune of 20 points and 20 rebounds. This decided advantage led to a 59-46 rebounding disparity which the Pelicans are unlikely to enjoy again.
The Clippers are on a hot streak having won four straight games (since their Nola loss) despite playing the NBA’s second-most difficult schedule and having Paul George and Kawhi Leonard for only 49 combined minutes.
Kawhi with the game on the line... one of the best in the clutch. pic.twitter.com/VdyLRvrYz6— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 23, 2019
Offensively and defensively, they’ve been a top-10 team rated ninth in each category. They’re 12th in pace which should bode well for the Pelicans’ style. They’re third in fast break points scored, third in free throws and fourth in total rebounds. They also have the league’s best fourth-quarter advantage with its’ third-best offense and sixth-best defense during that period. They’re also fourth in limiting opponent points in the paint.
Their one major weakness? Turnovers. They turn it over at the fourth-worst rate in the NBA. However, the Los Angeles Clippers may have another glaring weakness you may not know about.
National pundits are quick to point out Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell as the league’s best pick-and-roll duo. However, they’re quick to forget how the Clippers’ stock plummets precipitously when Williams is on the court.
Kawhi blocked the game-tying shot and walked off the court like nothing happened— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) November 21, 2019
While Kawhi and PG put up impressive numbers making the Clips +11.4 and +9.1 better per 100 possessions when they occupy the court, Williams is a horrifying negative 19.8. His defensive rating is negative 15.1 below the team’s average when he is off the floor.
The Pelicans should face the full barrage of Clipper talent minus sophomore swingman Landry Shamet (ankle). They’ve had reprieves in shorthanded matchups against the Heat, Warriors, Blazers and Suns but will enjoy no such advantage tonight. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George should both be available.
We should not expect to see any of Derrick Favors, Darius Miller or Zion Williamson but can be cautiously optimistic as to the availability of Josh Hart and Jahlil Okafor, who have been listed as questionable for a few games now. There is no certainty everyone will play on the second night of a back-to-back and fans should be quick to assume they won’t escape any matchup without a rash of injuries, but expectations should find them with 12 healthy bodies Sunday night.
Keys to Victory
- Turn up the pace
- Win the turnover battle
- Win the fourth
The Staples Center is certain to be rocking, as the Clippers have risen to first in attendance (above even their roommates in LeBron and Anthony Davis). Can the Pelicans steal the win?
Let’s geaux, Pels!
Where To Watch/Listen
What: New Orleans Pelicans (6-10) at Los Angeles Clippers (11-5)
Where: Staples Center
When: Sunday, November 24, 2019 8:00 PM CDT.