The LA Clippers host the struggling New Orleans Pelicans in another must-win game to keep pace in the Western Conference standings.
Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
When: 7:30 PM PT
How to Watch: Clippervision, Bally Sports SoCal
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Russell Westbrook – Eric Gordon – Kawhi Leonard – Marcus Morris Sr. – Ivica Zubac
Pelicans: CJ McCollum – Brandon Ingram – Herb Jones – Trey Murphy III – Jonas Valanciunas
Clippers: Paul George out (right knee), Norman Powell out (left shoulder), Brandon Boston Jr. out (tailbone), Moussa Diabate (G League Assignment), Xavier Moon (G League Assignment).
Pelicans: Zion Williamson out (right hamstring), Jose Alvarado out (right tibial stress reaction), Trey Murphy questionable, EJ Liddell (right knee ACL), Dereon Seabron (G League Assignment).
The Big Picture
Clipper Nation held their collective breaths after Tuesday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder as they awaited word on the extent of Paul George’s injury that forced him to leave the game and not return. The result was actually the best case scenario, as it was determined that he had a sprained knee and will be re-evaluated in two to three weeks.
Without George, the Clippers still managed to pull off a dominant win on Thursday in a game they needed to have. Every game is magnified with the ticking of the clock and the end of the regular season drawing near. The Clippers still have a shot at overtaking the Phoenix Suns for fourth in the West and thus ensuring homecourt advantage through the first round of the playoffs.
There is still enough talent on this team to pull together and grab a top-four finish, which would be a major win for this team considering how the season has played out. This is team has been incredibly reliant on Kawhi Leonard, who has returned to his top-five player in the NBA status.
Tyronn Lue is still tinkering with his lineups looking for a consistent combination, and in the Clippers win over the Thunder on Thursday, it was Bones Hyland’s turn. Hyland had not played in the last seven games prior, but he gave the team a huge boost. He finished with 16 points, four rebounds and seven assists while shooting 4-7 from three-point range.
This is the third game of the Clippers four-game homestand and it’s important that they take advantage before hitting the road for a few games.
The New Orleans Pelicans come to town almost a mirror image of the Clippers. They have two stars in Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, but both players are often injured leaving fans wondering “what if”. Earlier in the season, when both players were healthy, the Pelicans briefly held the top seed in the Western Conference.
With Williamson indefinitely sidelined, they have slipped in the standings and are in immediate danger of missing the postseason. They are currently 36-37 and in 9th place in the West. That would be good enough for one of the play-in spots, but they are essentially tied record-wise with the Thunder and only a half game up on the 11th seed Dallas Mavericks.
They’ve been playing a bit better of late, however. They have won three straight games and are 6-5 overall this month. As the Clippers learned against the Orlando Magic last weekend, no game is an easy game. Sure, the Clippers were missing Leonard in that game but it was still winnable and it should have been a win.
The same applies here. While the Pelicans are desperate for wins as well, the Clippers need to come out with the necessary energy to put this team away early. Whether they will or not, that always remains to be seen.