Game On: Clippers at Pelicans

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Published: January 30, 2015

Tonight, the Pelicans (24-22) continue their homestand against the Clippers (32-14), owners of the longest active winning streak in the Western Conference (6). According to Hollinger’s power rankings formula on ESPN.com (which takes into account factors such as strength of schedule and number of home and road games), the Clippers are the third best team in the NBA, behind just the Warriors and Hawks. Efficiency statistics back this up, as they rank 3rd in the NBA in Net Rating as well, outscoring opponents by 7.5 points per 100 possessions.

Apart from talent, the one thing that the Clippers have going for them is continuity. Los Angeles’ starting lineup of Chris Paul, JJ Redick, Matt Barnes, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan have played in 43 of the team’s 46 games so far and an incredible 839 minutes together (which is 252 minutes more than the 2nd most used lineup in the NBA, and twice as much as the league’s 4th most used lineup). In that time, the unit is outscoring opponents by 17.7 points per 100 possessions. If you swap Clippers 6th man Jamal Crawford with Redick, that unit has played 161 minutes together with an absurdly high net rating of +23.8. For comparison’s sake, the Pelicans’ opening night starting lineup of Holiday, Gordon, Evans, Davis, and Asik have played 169 minutes together this season, in which they have outscored opponents by 12.7 points per 100 possessions. Not only is this Los Angeles squad highly talented, but they haven’t been bitten by the injury bug much at all.

On the New Orleans side, we are still waiting to hear whether or not Anthony Davis will be available to play. As of shootaround this morning, Davis said he wasn’t sure if he would play; this comment leads me to believe he will sit out tonight, especially when coupled with the fact that the Pelicans don’t play again until Monday. Should that be the case, the Pels will have a very difficult task on their hands, as they are running into a Clippers team that is arguably playing its best basketball of the season. Being without a defender at point guard like Jrue Holiday when playing against CP3 will be difficult enough; not having AD may spell doom for NOLA.

If the Pelicans want to have a chance to win this game, second chance opportunities will be key. New Orleans ranks 3rd in the NBA in offensive rebound rate, but Los Angeles is 6th in defensive rebound rate. Both teams are both great at taking care of the ball, as they are two of the eight teams in the league that boast turnover rates of under 14%. Defending the 3-point line will also be essential, as the Clippers rank 3rd in 3-point percentage and 6th in 3-point attempts per game.

Do the Pelicans have a chance without their best two players? If Davis plays, what do the Pelicans have to do to emerge victorious? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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