UPDATE: Paul George has entered health and safety protocols, so our original prediction below no longer applies.
The New Orleans Pelicans are coming in hot after surviving a late-game surge from the San Antonio Spurs. In contrast, the LA Clippers faltered down the line against the young Minnesota Timberwolves. Which one of them can take advantage to book the West’s eighth seed?
Catch this game live on Saturday, April 16, at 10:00 AM, Manila time.
Away: New Orleans Pelicans
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: CJ McCollum
- SG: Herbert Jones
- SF: Brandon Ingram
- PF: Jaxson Hayes
- C: Jonas Valanciunas
The Pelicans were up by as much as 21 against the Spurs, before the 2014 champs put on that good old George Popovich effort to cut it to single digits in the first quarter. However, New Orleans were able to hold on and finish with a 113-103 victory. They can’t go more than five minutes without scoring against the Clippers though, who are the comeback kings this season.
CJ McCollum, who continues to prove that the Blazers got swindled in the deal that broke his long-time partnership with Damian Lillard up, was the best player on the floor against the Spurs. His 32 points, six rebounds and seven assists on 12 of 23 shooting helped them stay afloat when the Spurs found ways to fight back.
He wasn’t alone, though. Brandon Ingram had 27 points, five rebounds, and five assists while shooting 11 of 19. Jonas Valanciunas also bullied his way in the paint with 22 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocks – with his only memorable misstep being an airballed three-point attempt.
Overall, the Pelicans have the squad to give the Clippers trouble. The availability of the McCollum – Ingram – Valanciunas trio on offense is going to keep their opponents on their toes.
Home: LA Clippers
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Reggie Jackson
- SG: Paul George
- SF: Marcus Morris Sr.
- PF: Nicolas Batum
- C: Ivica Zubac
The Clippers had an 84-78 lead heading into the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves, then just melted down. To make matters worse, the loss came with Karl-Anthony Towns fouling out with 7:34 left on the clock and the Clippers holding a 93-86 lead. Missing their main man, the Wolves were able to answer thanks to strong play from both Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell, who combined for 59 points. You simply can’t lose a game where KAT finishes with as many points (11) as shot attempts.
We’ve gotten so used to the Clippers coming back to win this season that it felts like they still had a chance in crunch time, but the Timberwolves seemed to always have an answer, especially with former Clipper Patrick Beverley harassing their guards in the last five minutes of the game.
Still, Paul George had himself a game for LA. He had 34 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals and tried his best to single-handedly bring the Clippers back, but the closest he could do was making a three to get the deficit down to 108-104 with 13.6 seconds left. He’ll need more help from Reggie Jackson, who’s a big-time shot maker but only finished with 17 points on 18 shots against the Timberwolves.
Spread: I think the Pelicans have what it takes to cover +4.5, and even win.
Over/Under: The over 215.5 looks good to me.