After sweeping the season series with the Lakers, the Pelicans have an opportunity to accomplish the same feat against the other team from Los Angeles on Sunday night.
The Clippers sit just above the Pelicans in the Western Conference standings; however, that fails to reflect New Orleans’ dominance over them to date.
In their three victories, the Pelicans have beaten the Clippers by an average of 18.7 points and it hasn’t mattered whether Paul George has been in L.A.’s lineup or not. That’s noteworthy because their star returned to action a few days ago after missing 43 games due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow.
The Pelicans defeated George and the Clippers twice in November. So they’re familiar with slowing down PGIII, especially rookie Herb Jones.
Good morning. Herb Jones. Defensive Player of the Year. I said what I said. This is a 2nd round rookie against Paul George. pic.twitter.com/cSCYajXeFZ— Beignet Boy⚜️ (@_joshstaylit_) November 20, 2021
#NotOnHerb pic.twitter.com/T5z6KVvtlU— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) November 30, 2021
On the flip side, the Clippers have yet to face CJ McCollum when wearing a New Orleans uniform. That’s important because McCollum and Brandon Ingram have found a really nice groove playing alongside one another.
Since the All-Star break, only two teams can boast about having two players averaging 25 points per game or more. The Brooklyn Nets are one, with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and the other is the Pelicans.
Remember when Ingram was an NBA draft prospect and everyone’s favorite comparison for him was Durant? Doesn’t seem ridiculous at all any more. Look how closely BI’s numbers mirror KD’s — and also McCollum’s with Irving’s.
If Durant and Irving are currently the best 1-2 punch in the league, a strong argument could be made that Ingram and McCollum should sit next on the list. They’ve been legitimate triple threats for years and now they’re in the process of furthering their chemistry together. (They’ve only been teammates in 13 games together.) Yet stopping the duo is already a near impossible task for opponents.
How the Pelicans use Ingram/CJ/JV is just fun to me. Watch here, set starts with JV screening for CJ who curls. That flows right into Spain P&R. You defend that and it flows into Ingram and CJ. And then you have to deal with CJ doing this. pic.twitter.com/WYTwWojRIn— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) April 2, 2022
what's up with Brandon Ingram? pic.twitter.com/VAf7oZ3wUw— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) April 2, 2022
In addition to having Paul George back, Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris and Nicolas Batum are all expected to play as well. Good. Because there’s a chance that the Pelicans could face these Clippers in the upcoming play-in tournament.
So win or lose, taking notes from tonight’s matchup could prove invaluable for down the road purposes. However, don’t expect a loss. The Pelicans are playing as well as anyone right now (4th-best net rating over last eight games) thanks to the tone set by their two marquee players.
Beating Los Angeles’ two professional basketball teams seven times without a loss in a regular season is sitting squarely on the table for the Pelicans. Who else likes New Orleans’ odds?
Who: New Orleans Pelicans (34-43) at Los Angeles Clippers (38-40)
When: April 3, 2022, 8:30 p.m.
Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans, NBA TV, League Pass
Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM
For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.