It’s time once again to visit the strange and wonderful world of the Los Angeles Clippers. They couldn’t beat the NBA odds Wednesday night. What will happen Friday when they face the New Orleans Pelicans?
Jason’s record as of Jan. 28: 26-26-3 ATS, 2-4 Totals
So it’s been one of those 50-50 seasons here at the home office. We’ve been splitting the cash pretty evenly from the get-go with our NBA picks, which is the outcome you should most likely expect from anyone, but we do aspire to bigger things – even if we’re making overnight picks. Fortunately, some picks are easier than others, and fading the Los Angeles Clippers was pretty easy in Wednesday’s game against the Utah Jazz (+6.5) Final score: Los Angeles 94, Utah 89.
Friday’s a new day, though, and the Clippers (32-14 SU, 19-27 ATS) have a new opponent in the New Orleans Pelicans (24-22 SU, 27-19 ATS). Those ATS records automatically make us lean toward the Pellies, although we don’t have any NBA odds yet on this matchup. Blame Anthony Davis (31.9 PER), who once again has the temerity to be listed as questionable with a Grade 1 abductor strain. C’mon, he’s only one of the best five players in the league.
That’s the big problem with making overnight picks. Especially in this day and age, you never know who’s going to suit up in any particular game until the shootaround, and even then, you never know. The last time we were on the Pelicans, we weren’t 100 percent sure about Davis’ status for their game against the Los Angeles Lakers – who had Kobe Bryant listed as questionable. Both gentlemen ended up playing in a 96-80 win for the Pellies (–7 at home).
Not to turn this into a bad beat column, but you might recall we faded New Orleans earlier this month against the Memphis Grizzlies, based on the imbalance of the Pelicans starting backcourt. Then New Orleans trotted out a different starting five and won 106-95 as 1-point home faves. At the moment, Jrue Holiday (18.7 PER) is out with a stress reaction in his right leg, so that prevents the Pels from overloading on shooting guards anyway. They’re 6-3 SU and ATS since Holiday went on the injured list.
What we’ve seen instead is more balanced play. With Dante Cunningham (plus-0.6 DBPM) at small forward acting as the glue guy, and taking just 7.0 shots per 36 minutes, there’s been plenty of offense to go around for Eric Gordon (11.7 PER) and Tyreke Evans (16.7 PER). It’s a similar dynamic down low with Davis and Omer Asik (plus-0.5 DBPM), who limits himself to 7.3 attempts per 36 minutes. Everything in its right place.
Austin City Limits
Speaking of which, the right place for Austin Rivers (10.1 PER) was not in the Big Easy. That game against Memphis was the last Rivers played in a Pelicans uniform, which frees up 22.1 minutes per game for someone other than Rivers. That special someone is Quincy Pondexter (7.7 PER), who came over from the Grizzlies in that giant 3-team trade involving the Boston Celtics and Jeff Green. Pondexter isn’t doing well by any means, posting the same minus-2.9 BPM that Rivers did before him. But at least he’s doing it as an alleged “3-and-D” guy. Again, balance.
The Clippers definitely didn’t improve when they added Rivers to the lineup. His BPM in L.A. has fallen to minus-5.2, far below that of his predecessors, Jordan Farmar (minus-1.5) and Reggie Bullock (minus-1.8). Having said that, Rivers has the occasional good game, and he contributed 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting against Utah, including 2-of-4 from long range. We’d still expect to see less of Rivers once J.J. Redick (14.9 PER) comes back from the injured list, which could be as soon as Friday night (8:00 p.m. ET). But it could end up being Jamal Crawford (17.9 PER) who sees his minutes go down, instead of the coach’s son. The horror. The horror.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Pelicans