The battle between the New Orleans Pelicans vs. Los Angeles Clippers will tip off on the third day of the 2019-20 season restart at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
New Orleans Pelicans
Currently sitting in 10th in the Western Conference, the New Orleans Pelicans look to improve their seeding to book their spot in the NBA playoffs. Their record is 28-36, and they are four games away from the 8th seed, the Memphis Grizzlies.
This season, the Pelicans traded Anthony Davis to the Lakers and received Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and multiple unprotected first-round picks in return. They did not have a great start and struggled to win games during the season. However, first overall pick Zion Williamson turned things around and improved the team’s record.
Williamson only played 19 games but made a significant impact on the team. While averaging 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds, his presence on the floor improved the Pelicans by 13.9 points per 100 possessions. He lifted the team’s offense and average defense, which many have imagined and expected him to do since his days at Duke.
Although Williamson left the NBA bubble due to a family emergency, he was able to join the Pelicans Thursday, pouring in 13 points in 15 minutes. Williamson’s contribution wasn’t enough, though, as New Orleans fell 106-104 to Utah.
Los Angeles Clippers
Since the signing of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers were immediate championship contenders for 2019-20. Although they were not quite the dominant team people imagined, L.A. showed noticeable team chemistry.
The two superstars, Leonard and George, played just 32 games together due to shoulder surgeries and load management. However, they showed exceptional skills by outscoring opponents by 11.6 points per 100 possessions. The duo gives the Clippers one of the most talented and versatile teams in the NBA.
Against their biggest rivals Los Angeles Lakers, they won two of their last three meetings and Leonard scored 30 or more points in both games. The third game, though, did not go the Clippers’ way and lost 112-103 to the Lakers.The Clippers fell 103-101 to the Lakers in the restart on Thursday as well.
The Pelicans’ Trio
Williamson’s teammate Brandon Ingram has shown massive improvements to his game, and Lonzo Ball improved his shooting to help the team climb. The young trio made the Pelicans a playoff contender in the Western Conference. Veterans J.J. Redick and Derrick Favors have fit in well since joining the team. The team has great depth, and it is only the first season that they are playing together. They have a bright and positive future ahead of them.
Clipper’s Bench and Defense
The Clippers have one of the strongest, if not the best, bench in the NBA – when available. Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell are still questionable for Saturday’s game after being in quarantine for leaving the NBA bubble.
The Clippers will win the game against the Pelicans, lowering the chance for New Orleans to make the playoffs. The Clippers have so many scoring options, and one more was added after they acquired Marcus Morris from the New York Knicks. Even though his scoring efficiency dipped with the Clippers, he has made significant contributions to their defense.
The Clippers lead the Pelicans 2-1 this season and in the game that Los Angeles lost, they did not have Kawhi Leonard. With both Leonard and George in the roster, it will be hard for the Pelicans to beat a strong defensive team even if Zion Williamson sees more minutes.