Pelicans to Join Playoff Party with Victory over Ailing Clippers

Doug Upstone

Monday, April 9, 2018 3:26 PM UTC

Monday, Apr. 9, 2018 3:26 PM UTC

New Orleans has not been in the NBA playoffs in three years and just once since the 2011-12 season. They can secure a postseason berth with a win tonight in Los Angeles.

NBA Monday: Pelicans (46-34, 43-36-1 ATS) vs. Clippers (42-38, 42-37-1 ATS)Free NBA Pick: Pelicans -8Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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New Orleans has been on a rollercoaster ride in trying to reach the playoffs. On March 22, after beating the L.A. Lakers, the Pelicans had moved up to the No. 4 slot, riding a four-game winning streak in the Western Conference, which was as log-jammed as the Los Angeles freeway system. Nothing has ever come easy for the Pelicans and they immediately turned around, losing four consecutive games to fall to No. 8 and staring at missing the playoffs altogether. Instead of folding, New Orleans picked itself up and has won three straight and moved back to the fifth spot out West.

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Two more games left!

The #Pelicans can clinch a playoff spot with a W tonight!

🏀 at Clippers
⌚ 9:30 pm CT
📻 @995WRNO#DoItBig

— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) April 9, 2018

Earlier today the NBA odds board had New Orleans as a 7.5-point road favorite over the injury-riddled Clippers, with a total of 226. Are the Pelicans a lock for your NBA picks, or do the Clips make life uncomfortable for the visitors in the nationally televised game (10:30 p.m. ET; ESPN)?

New Orleans Travels Well

This is the Pelicans' final road game of the season and they have been a tough in their traveling uniforms all year at 23-17 SU and 25-15 ATS. Their 126-120 win at Golden State two nights ago was a huge confidence booster, but that only matter if they follow it up with another victory.

Anthony Davis is the face of the franchise and is having another fine season. But credit coach Alvin Gentry for being creative. New Orleans plays a lot of "small ball" to create mismatches, using a three-guard lineup. Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo are the starting guards and 6-foot-4 E'Twaun Moore is listed as the "shooting forward" in the box score.

Gentry is willing to play this way knowing he has Davis as the last line of defense.

Injuries Clip Clippers' Season

It's not like the Clippers came into the season with high expectations after losing Chris Paul and later trading Blake Griffin. Yet somehow, they kept hanging around on the playoff fringes.

Despite losing three point guards, Doc Rivers' team still had a chance to reach the postseason thanks to DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams guiding this team through the rough patches. However, the final blow came when they lost Milos Teodosic to a foot injury in a victory over Phoenix on March 28. The Clips are 1-4 SU and ATS since then and were eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday.

How This Game Plays Out

Rivers has vowed his team will not roll over for New Orleans and will come to play. However, playing your best with a roster short on guard talent against the Pelicans' trio of talented guards is a lot to overcome. Especially with how confident and proud New Orleans sounded after the upset of the Warriors.

Expect a typical fourth-quarter outcome, but Davis and company do the job and cover the spread and move to 13-2 ATS as road favorites this season (winning margin is 9.5 PPG).

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