With just 10 games remaining in the regular season, the Clippers (43-19) head to New Orleans where they’ll face the floundering Pelicans (26-34) in the second game of their three-game road trip.
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana
When: 5 p.m. PT
How to Watch: Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570 L.A. Sports, 1330 AM Tu Liga
Projected Starting Lineups:
L.A. Clippers: Reggie Jackson – Terrance Mann – Paul George – Marcus Morris Sr. – Ivica Zubac
New Orleans Pelicans: Eric Bledsoe – Lonzo Ball – Brandon Ingram – Zion Williamson – Willy Hernangomez
L.A. Clippers: Patrick Beverley – OUT (Left Hand Fourth Metacarpal Fracture), Luke Kennard – OUT (Rest), Serge Ibaka – OUT (Lower Back Tightness), Kawhi Leonard – OUT (Right Foot Soreness)
New Orleans Pelicans: James Johnson – OUT (Groin), Steven Adams – QUESTIONABLE (Toe), Nickeil Alexander-Walker – OUT (Left Ankle Sprain) – Josh Hart – OUT (Torn UCL)
The Big Picture
After winning nine of their last 10, the Clippers remain the hottest team in the West and are one of just three teams to have on such a streak (Wizards, Knicks). Virtually tied with the Phoenix Suns (42-18) in the standings, every game is crucial down the stretch if the Clippers hope to jump up to second in the conference. The winner of Wednesday’s primetime matchup between the two squads will go a long way in determining the playoff picture, but to get there, L.A. must take care of business in New Orleans against a Pelicans squad that’s 4-6 in their last 10 games.
Down multiple starters, the Clippers will rely on Paul George, one of the league’s hottest scorers in the month of April. Terrance Mann should see extended run as well in the wake of Luke Kennard (rest).
Boasting a top-10 offensive rating (114.1), the Pelicans have proven capable of scoring with anyone. In just his second year, Williamson has lifted himself into the league’s upper echelon, pouring in 27 a night on 61.7% from the field.
It’s been the other side of the ball, however, that’s often been New Orleans’ downfall. Ranking a measly 27th in defensive rating, the Pelicans porous defense has left them vulnerable all season. Despite key injuries for L.A., the Clippers — the NBA’s league leader is three-point percentage — should have no trouble on the offensive end.
In the past months, Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy has opted to put the ball in the hands of Williamson more frequently. A decision which prompted one of the league’s most unstoppable forces to turn it up a notch. Nobody has shut down Williamson, but if the Clippers can slow him down using a committee approach, there’s no reason to think L.A. can’t continue their hot streak in the Bayou.
- Zion’s Brilliance: According to ESPN Stats and Info, Zion Williamson is just the fourth player in NBA history with 10 or more 30-point games on 70% shooting over his first 2 seasons — a scary stat when taking into account his early injury history. He joins Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and David Robinson.
- Boogie-Woogie: After two 10-day contracts, the Clippers have finalized a deal to sign Demarcus Cousins for the remainder of the season. In eight games, Cousins is averaging 6.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game for the third-place Clippers.
- Reggie’s Three-Point Renaissance: It’s no secret that consistently hot shooting from deep (league-leading 41%) has been one of the primary factors in the Clipper’s success this season. A large contributor has been Reggie Jackson’s surge. Jackson is shooting a career-best 44% on 3.9 attempts per game and has been crucial in late game situations in for Clippers.
Note: This piece will be updated throughout the day to reflect news regarding players’ availability for tonight’s game.
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