The New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Clippers will seek to rebound from losses in their opening games inside the NBA's Orlando bubble when they meet on Saturday.
Whereas the Clippers lost in a hard-fought game against the Lakers and stayed super competitive despite being down a couple key players, New Orleans fell to Utah with Zion Williamson scoring 13 points and playing only 15 minutes.
Can the Clippers hang on to the No. 2 seed in the West, and will the Pels run out of time to sneak into the playoffs? Get a better gauge on the game by reading the rest of abe Insights' betting preview, which helps you out with the best odds available and relevant information to bolster your wagering tactics.
Date: Saturday, August 1
Time: 6 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Pelicans 36%; Clippers 67%
Spread: LAC -5
Moneyline: NO +176; LAC -200
It's impossible to talk about the Pelicans right now without mentioning their Zion strategy. Yes, they're insuring his long-term future is intact, yet it feels a little too cautious. They're fighting for a spot in the postseason, after all.
The aforementioned key cogs in the Clippers rotation who missed the 103-101 thriller against the Purple and Gold are guard Lou Williams and big man Montrezl Harrell. Williams is still serving a 10-day quarantine, and Harrell is dealing with a personal matter.
11.9 vs. 8.7: Thanks in large part to Zion's imposing presence, the Pels rank tied for third in offensive rebounds per contest over the past 15 games. Los Angeles ranks 15th in the category during that span, so that could loom large with Harrell out of action.
10.5 vs. 10.4: This super-tight stat comparison reflects the positive plus-minus rating for Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard and Zion respectively. It goes to show the type of impact and dominance the young phenom is flashing through only 20 career games.
18.4 vs. 16.9: Assist ratio is an area the Pelicans have a numerical advantage in. They rank seventh in the NBA in that statistic; the L.A. is a mere 22nd. It goes to show how selfless New Orleans is offensively, whereas the Clips rely on Leonard, Williams and Paul George to generate offense themselves with less ball movement.
As one might imagine, it's difficult for the Pelicans to get into a consistent rhythm when Zion is being shuffled in and out of the lineup on the advice of medical staff. They must know something we don't, because the No. 1 draft pick looks explosive as ever.
But this is essentially a win-or-go home scenario every game from here on in. Just to earn the right to square off against Memphis for a shot at the eighth seed requires maximum roster strength and probably no more than one more loss. Accomplishing these two objectives isn't really feasible if Williamson isn't more involved.
Both the Clippers and Pelicans have reason to feel good despite not starting off the bubble slate the way they wanted to, though.
L.A. went toe-to-toe with the Lakers, showing no signs of backing down to the West's No. 1 seed despite missing Williams and Harrell (combined 37.3 ppg). New Orleans endured a horrendous 2-for-13 shooting effort from Lonzo Ball but still led by double digits, so there were stretches of good basketball being played.
One fun little X-factor to this one is Pelicans veteran JJ Redick. He'd been missing with a nagging hamstring injury when Zion burst onto the scene. Now he's back and is one of the few seasoned pros who can lead this super-young Pelicans outfit. Redick is also a former Clipper, and he showed no signs of rust in pouring in 21 points against the Jazz.
According to TeamRankings.com, the Clippers boast a 30-22 record covering the spread. That's where the real pre-game betting value is here. They don't really have an answer for Zion, yet they don't really have to if he's so limited in minutes, so lots of action should go on Los Angeles' spread.
Hedging with the Pelicans moneyline presents decent value. They're the more desperate team and could catch the Clippers having a hangover from the Lakers loss, particularly when home court isn't so much a factor anymore.
Since both teams saw their games go under the point total on Thursday, it's reasonable to expect some offensive fireworks. Look for action to skew toward the Over. The Pels love to push the pace, and the Clippers can play that game, too, with creative small lineups.
Note: Odds current as of 9:45 a.m. ET on Saturday, August 1.
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