Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#4771 New Orleans Pelicans vs.
#4772 Los Angeles Clippers
Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at 10:00pm EST
Staples Center, Los Angeles
Written by Jordy

After getting pounded for the last week, the New Orleans Pelicans hope to avoid their fourth consecutive loss in Wednesday’s road trip to take on the Los Angeles Clippers. The Pelicans have only won a single game since the start of the new year. They have been defeated in their last three outings against Charlotte, Oklahoma City and Indiana. Meanwhile, the Clippers are simply hoping for some consistency considering they’ve only won back-to-back games twice this season. They barely survived in a 130-127 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.

Pelicans in danger of losing fourth consecutive game

It has looked ugly for the Pelicans.

They always seem to run out of offense or defense when it really counts. The team couldn’t make the play in overtime to survive a two-point loss to Indiana. Then they completely blew a halftime lead against Oklahoma City and failed in an attempt at a fourth-quarter comeback rally. Oh yeah, there was also last Friday’s defensive meltdown in the second-half against the Hornets that led to a 118-110 loss at home.

It’s like the Pelicans disappear when palms get sweaty and butts get tight.

The inability to finish games is a no-no for a group of players heading on the road to face one of the best teams in the Western Conference.

New Orleans clearly lacks the offensive ability to hang with a Clippers team boasting a pair of perennial All-Stars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Pelicans are ranked in the bottom-half of the league in scoring offense with the team averaging only 107.1 points per game this season. There was a time when Eric Bledsoe averaged 20-plus points in the league, but those days are seemingly way behind him.

So far it has been all about Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson. The team desperately needs another scorer if they have any hope of ever breaking through as a contender. Until that day comes, everything will come down to their defense on Wednesday. That’s a scary thought when considering the offensive capabilities of a team like the Clippers.

Yet, the Pelicans are currently ranked sixth in defensive efficiency with opponents averaging only 44.5 percent shooting against them. They’ll either have a defensive night to remember or another crushing loss at the hands of far superior basketball team.

Bad defense means big problems for the Clippers

The Clippers have looked mighty shaky on defense as of late. That might even be putting it mildly considering they are ranked 26th in the league right now in defensive efficiency.

Take a moment and let that thought sink in. This is a team that was believed to be one of the best defensive teams in basketball last season. Now, they have somehow fallen to the fifth-worst in the league.

Whew.

Look no further than Sunday’s run-in with the Bulls in a game where they gave up 127 points. They managed to come away with a victory, but the Bulls shot 61 percent from the floor against them. Good luck winning a championship with that defense.

I’m expecting the Clippers to eventually figure it out with so much talent on their roster. Surely, they won’t stink like this by the time the playoffs roll around, right? Right!?

They’ll have a chance to get back on track on Wednesday against a Pelicans team that ranks among the worst teams in offensive efficiency. This is a game where the Clippers should be able to step up and shut things down on the defensive end of the floor. The Pelicans are a one-track team with the brunt of their offense coming at the rim. It could create a cause for concern if the Clippers still get smoked defensively.

At the very least, they’ve shown the ability to flip the offensive switch, but that isn’t always a guarantee with the team obviously still working to figure things out. They have a new head coach and some new pieces.

It’s still a work in progress.

That might continue to be the case against the Pelicans. Make no mistake, New Orleans is no pushover when it comes to locking teams up on defense. The Clippers will need every bit of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George’s star power in this game.

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There’s too much riding on the Pelicans to be dominant defensively for them to win games. That isn’t a strategy that’s going to suit them well on the road against the Clippers. Even with their win over the Bulls, you can rest assured the Clippers have heard the noise about their defensive blunders loud and clear.

What better chance for a turnaround performance than facing one of the worst offensive teams in the league?

The Pelicans have been even worse on the road with the team averaging a sad 102.5 points per game. Only the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers have a worse scoring average away from their home building. Leonard and George are going to do what they do best and carry the Clippers on their back on offense. However, the entire team as a whole will also bounce back from their defensive meltdown against the Bulls by fending off a Pelicans team that will have a hard time buying a bucket on the road.

I’m laying the points and taking the Clippers.

Prediction: Los Angeles Clippers (-6)

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The Clippers will finally have a chance to flex their defensive muscles on Wednesday night. No, I wouldn’t make the argument that they’ve suddenly figured things out, but they’ll be facing a Pelicans team still struggling to find a flow to their offense. They can at least find solace in the fact that they aren’t facing the same struggles on defense. The Pelicans have dominated on the road by holding opposing teams to only 100.2 points per game this season. Only the Los Angeles Lakers have been more dominant than them on the road. Give me the under in this one.

Prediction: Under (221)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast, and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY, and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys, and all the Sun Drop you can drink.