Game Preview: New Orleans Pelicans Set to Duel Los Angeles Clippers

Dec 10, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Wesley Johnson (back) and New Orleans Pelicans guard Buddy Hield (24) battle for the loose ball during the third quarter at Staples Center. The Los Angeles Clippers won 133-105. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans are set for a duel with the Los Angeles Clippers tonight, who will be missing a few key players for the contest.

A tough opponent for the New Orleans Pelicans enters town tonight in the Los Angeles Clippers.

However, this is not the same Clippers teams that beat New Orleans 25 days ago.

Los Angeles will be without power forward Blake Griffin tonight and could be without Chris Paul and J.J. Redick. Injuries have plagued this Clippers team in a similar manner to the Pelicans’ early season struggles.

It may finally be the chance for Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday to have their breakout games against Los Angeles. Davis has had problems with Griffin’s size in previous matchups. The same goes for Holiday’s issues with Chris Paul’s overall defensive abilities. Paul and Griffin are both fantastic players. Without them, New Orleans stands much better chances at victory.

Los Angeles faces a big part of their season, as they stand at 22-11 for the fourth best record in the West. New Orleans, on the other hand, is 12-21 for the 11th best record in the conference. However, they are only three games out of the eighth seed, something that seems plausible with their improved play.

This game comes down to the Pelicans finding an answer for the Clippers’ potent offense. Even without Paul, Los Angeles has plenty of players that can score the basketball with ease. Whether it is the shooting of Redick, Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford or the inside presence of Mo Speights, DeAndre Jordan and Brandon Bass.

Another big key will be the shooting of New Orleans. The struggles from outside the arc has been big for the Pelicans. It will be bigger tonight, as DeAndre Jordan will likely reject any of the driving guards’ shots at the rim. If New Orleans goes small tonight like they did Monday against Dallas, Anthony Davis will have to have an answer for Jordan’s athleticism.

The Los Angeles Clippers have won 13 of the past 17 matchups against New Orleans. The Pelicans have yet to win a season series against Los Angles since the 2010-2011 season.

The Clippers have already won the first two matchups of the year. The Pels need to win this game, in order to avoid the season sweep.

This game will dictate the moral for the 2017 set of games. Even without their stars, the Clippers are a quality team. A win against them is a huge step towards their goals to sneak into the final playoff spot. The New Orleans Pelicans need to execute their gameplan and play a solid 48 minutes, to get a much needed win that will set the stage going forward.

Dec 2, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) tips the ball in as LA Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) defends during the first quarter at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Who, When, Where and How to Watch

When and Where: The game will be played at 7:00 PM CST in New Orleans.

How To Watch: The game will be broadcast on NBA TV

Injuries: 

New Orleans:  Quincy Pondexter (Left Knee) is out.

Los Angeles: Blake Griffin (Sore Right Knee) and Brice Johnson (Back) are out. Chris Paul (Strained Left Hamstring) and J.J. Redick (Sore Left Hamstring) are questionable.

Probable Starting Lineups:

New Orleans: PG Jrue Holiday, SG Buddy Hield, SF Solomon Hill, PF Dante Cunningham, C Anthony Davis

Los Angeles: PG Chris Paul, SG J.J. Redick, SF Wesley Johnson, PF Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, C DeAndre Jordan

Other Players to Watch: 

New Orleans: E’Twaun MooreTyreke Evans, Terrence Jones, Tim Frazier and Langston Galloway

Los Angeles: Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce, Austin Rivers, Alan Anderson and Marreese Speights

What’s Next for the Pelicans?

The New Orleans Pelicans will continue their homestand Friday night, as they host the New York Knicks. Tip is scheduled for 6:00 PM CST.

Nov 12, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram (14) shoots over New Orleans Pelicans guard Buddy Hield (24) and guard Langston Galloway (10) and forward Anthony Davis (23) during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Lakers defeated the Pelicans 126-99. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Key to the Game: Wing Defense of Buddy Hield and Friends

The Los Angeles Clippers have lethal offensive options at the wing. Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick, Wesley Johnson and Austin Rivers can all attack the basket with authority and shoot from deep.

The New Orleans Pelicans have to find an answer for each of them. That will likely come down to strong defense from Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore and Solomon Hill.

Moore and Hill have been strong in the past few games. However, Hield and Galloway are still works in progress.

Against Jamal Crawford, the Pelicans will have to have an all-around defensive focus on forcing poor shots. Crawford can drive, shoot and loves to look for the mid-to-long range jumpers off the dribble. New Orleans needs to force him to pick up the ball early and often.

J.J. Redick is a marksman. While he can attack the basket and score, that is what the Pelicans will want. Leaving him open from behind the arc leads to an easy three points every time. That can not be a common theme, for New Orleans to win.

Wesley Johnson is not a prolific shooter, but like Luc Richard Mbah A Moute last time these two teams played, he can not be left wide open from deep. His strengths are attacking the basket and forcing fouls on his drives. However, the Pels have to be wary of his shooting as well.

Then there’s Austin Rivers. New Orleans should be well accustomed on how to stop Rivers. Give him enough room to overextend his offensive game, yet not enough to succeed. Guard his drives with physicality, yet give him the small opening to force a bad long-range attempt too.

For the New Orleans Pelicans to beat the Clippers, they will have to shut down the lethal attack of the variety of Los Angeles wing options. If they can do that, it will do wonders for their chances at winning this key game.

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