After each losing on opening night, the Clippers and Pelicans will try to bounce back and get a win against each other in their second bubble game in a possible (if highly unlikely) preview of the 1st round.
Where: The Most Magical Place on Earth (Orlando, Florida)
When: Saturday, August 1st @ 3:00PM PT
How to Watch: Prime Ticket, ESPN, Fox Sports New Orleans
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers (Home): Reggie Jackson – Paul George – Kawhi Leonard – Marcus Morris – Ivica Zubac
Pelicans (Away) : Lonzo Ball – Jrue Holiday – Brandon Ingram – Zion Williamson – Derrick Favors
Clippers: Lou Williams OUT (Extended Quarantine), Montrezl Harrell OUT (Personal), Amir Coffey QUESTIONABLE (Hip Pointer)
The Big Picture
What happens to iron if you expose it to water and oxygen for too long? The same thing that happens to a professional sports team after not playing sports for several months—rust. While the loss to the Lakers in their Magic Kingdom opener was not ideal for the Clippers, it is certainly not time to be hitting the panic button. Not only were the Clippers without their dominant bench duo, Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams, but it was clear that the team still has a ways to go in conditioning and rebuilding their chemistry. Most notably, Shamet and Zu looked completely out of rhythm, and Marcus Morris is (hopefully) still getting his legs under him.
Either way, a loss is a loss, and the Clippers do not have much room for error if they hope to maintain the 2nd seed. The Western Conference is an absolute bloodbath, with the Nuggets, Jazz, Thunder, and Rockets all within 3 games of each other in the loss column. However, while the Clippers are fighting for playoff positioning, the Pelicans are playing for much higher stakes. A full four games back from the eight seed, the Pelicans have quite the uphill battle to keep JJ Redick’s playoff streak alive.
With the weight of JJ Redick’s legacy on their shoulders, the Pelicans dropped their opener against the Jazz after starting off strong and entering halftime with a 12 point lead. The team is now fighting for their playoff lives, and with that you can expect them to come out swinging.
Matchup wise, the Clippers should have an easier time against the Pelicans by virtue of not having to go up against Anthony Davis or LeBron James. The Pelicans’ relatively poor defense (ranking in the late teens) will hopefully give the Clippers a chance to find a bit more rhythm on the offensive end. That being said, the Pelicans are not without firepower. While they may not have any MVP candidates, they are one of the top five three point shooting teams in the league, and they have been steadily improving since the return of Zion Williamson.
This game will by no means be a cakewalk for the Clippers, especially considering their dynamic bench duo will still be missing. They will certainly need better games from guys like Zubac, Shamet, and Morris, who were complete no shows (at best) against the Lakers.
The PeliCANS not the PeliCANTs
Although the Pelicans had a challenging start to their 2019-2020 season, they constantly showed flashes of their talent. Brandon Ingram elevated his game to a new level (as is tradition with young Lakers who leave their team), Lonzo Ball started putting his game together with more efficient shooting (like I said, it’s a tradition), and their veteran players like Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, and Derrick Favors all continued to contribute as expected.
They slowly began to turn things around as their schedule eased up, but things looked especially promising when Zion Williamson made his debut. Not many rookies can storm the league and bully their way to an efficient 23/7/2, but Zion really does look like the real deal. For as young as they are, they are hungry to make some noise and grab the 8th seed, so expect them to come out strong.
- No shows on and off the court: The absence of Trez and Lou hurt just as bad as everyone expected last game. The Clippers struggled to find reliable offense outside of their stars players last game, and to make matters worse, offensive minded players like Shamet (1-8) and Morris (0-4) were downright terrible. With the offensive firepower that the Pelicans have, the Clippers will need some of their role players to step up this time around with Trez and Lou still missing.
- Rotations: As we have seen with Doc in the past, he tends to experiment with interesting lineups in non playoff games. This was the case against the Lakers when Doc threw in Landry Shamet and Reggie Jackson to help close out the game. This would almost certainly not have been the case if it was an actually important game, so it will be interesting to see if Doc plays around with lineups again.
- Zion: It’s not every year that a rookie comes in and is literally the 2nd heaviest player in the league behind Boban. While that has brought up some health concerns, Zion has proven to be every bit as dominant as his biggest fans thought he would be. It’ll be exciting to see how the Clippers try to match up with him in this game.
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