Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#545 Los Angeles Clippers -5.5 vs.
#546 New Orleans Pelicans 233
Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 3:35pm EST
Smoothie King Center, New Orleans
Written by Sporty Jordy

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W/L
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#545 Los Angeles
#546 New Orleans
29-13
16-26
22-19-1
19-20-3
19-23
24-18
115
113
109
117

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When and where: January 18, 2020, Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA, 3:30 PM ET

The New Orleans Pelicans hope to pull off a monumental upset on Saturday when taking on the visiting Los Angeles Clippers. Since dropping an ugly blowout loss to the Boston Celtics, the Pelicans have bounced back with consecutive overtime wins over the Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz. Meanwhile, the Clippers barely broke a sweat when rolling over the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers. The series is tied 1-1 in the head-to-head meetings between the two teams this season.

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The Claw snatches the Magic out of Orlando

Kawhi Leonard is the best basketball player on the planet. That’s the sort of comment that’ll elicit some eye rolls from the individuals still not ready for LeBron James to step down from his throne. But Leonard, a defending champion, is on a tear right now. He has scored 30-plus points in his previous four outings, including a 32-point performance against the same Magic team that eked out a win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The struggling Pelicans could be next on the list when they host the Clippers on Saturday. Opposing teams are averaging a ridiculous 127.3 points against the Pelicans in their last three outings. Even with George sidelined with a hamstring injury, the Clippers are still the fifth-ranked offense in the league averaging 115.8 points per game this season. Leonard, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell alone are enough for any team to have to deal with on the floor.

The Clippers will enter the game with a defense allowing a 43.7 field goal shooting percentage. They’ll be tough to crack with the Pelicans’ injury-riddled roster. Most of the players that can help them will be watching from the sidelines.

Can the Pelicans turn it around?

Brandon Ingram dropped a career-high 49 points on Thursday night to end the Jazz’s 10-game win streak. It was the kind of monstrous offensive performance that turned the heads of skeptics. Perhaps there really is life left in these Pelicans. Imagine how good they’ll be if Zion Williamson sticks to his tentatively scheduled return date of January 22.

The best could be yet to come for the young Pelicans.

They’ll look to pull off another upset in Saturday’s meeting with the Clippers. New Orleans will come into the game with the seventh-ranked scoring offense in the league. They have remained a threat to opposing teams despite having guys constantly in and out of the lineup.

Jahlil Okafor and Jrue Holiday have both been listed as out for the game, while veteran guard JJ Redick is questionable to play.

The Pelicans will have their hands full with a Clippers defense that ranks fifth in the league in offensive efficiency. A big scoring performance will mean the difference between winning and losing for Ingram and company. New Orleans lacks the defensive ability to shut down a team with as many scoring options as the Clippers.

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Teams often forget how good the Pelicans can be on offense until it’s too late. The Jazz are one of the best defensive teams in the league, and they had no answers for Ingram on the floor. However, the Pelicans also had no answers for Donovan Mitchell, who came within a few buckets of taking the game in the other direction.

Not even Mitchell can prepare a team for dealing with a player of Leonard’s caliber.

The inability to get stops on defense remains a serious concern for the Pelicans. They are too one-dimensional of a team, and they can’t be trusted to go out and score 138 points to win another game. Ingram certainly can’t be trusted to drop 49 points.

Opposing teams are averaging a 46.7 field goal shooting percentage against the Pelicans. They’re the doormat opponent for high-scoring offenses, and there is no questioning Los Angeles’ identity with their offense averaging 118.0 points in their last three games. I’m taking the Clippers on Saturday.

Prediction: Los Angeles Clippers

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Even with a bevy of players out with injuries, the Pelicans will take it to the Clippers and make things interesting early. However, it won’t be long before they start feeling the heat on defense generated by the elite scoring of Leonard, Williams and Harrell.

These two teams have met twice already this season, and both were high-scoring affairs. The Pelicans got the first win against the Clippers in a game where they scored 132 points, while the Clippers scored 134 points and returned the favor in the rematch. There’s nowhere to go but up in the trilogy. I’m taking the over betting total here.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Sporty 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.