The Los Angeles Clippers head to the Big Easy to face off against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night. With the NBA regular season wrapping up next weekend and just a game and a half separating these teams in the Western Conference standings, this will be a pivotal clash.
NBA betting lines opened with Pels installed as 3.5-point home favorites with the Over/Under at 227.5. Here are my best free Clippers vs. Pelicans NBA picks and predictions for Saturday, April 1.
Clippers vs Pelicans best odds
Clippers vs Pelicans picks and predictions
The Pelicans are coming off a 107-88 road victory in Denver on Thursday and have gone 6-1 straight up and against the spread in their last seven games. That red-hot stretch has coincided with Brandon Ingram catching on fire.
Ingram is averaging 29.6 points, 8.3 assists, and 6.3 rebounds per game on 52/48/93 shooting splits over the last eight contests. The Pels have also been anchored by their stingy defensive play and rank fifth in the league in defensive rating (111.7), with that number improving to a league-best 109.7 since the All-Star break.
The Clippers have gone a middling 4-4 SU and ATS in their previous eight contests and are just 4-9 SU on the tail-end of back-to-back contests this year. They've really missed Paul George since his latest injury setback two weeks ago.
In fact, these teams clashed last weekend, with the Pelicans blowing out the Clippers 131-110 in L.A. New Orleans has now gone 8-1 SU and ATS in the last nine meetings between these teams, and seven of its victories over that span came by double digits.
With the Pels' recent form and success in the head-to-head combined with their home-court and rest advantage, I'm laying the points with the home side.
My best bet: Pelicans -3.5 (-110 at FanDuel)
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Clippers vs Pelicans spread analysis
The Clippers are in fifth place in the Western Conference standings with a 41-37 record, while the Pelicans are in eighth but sit just a game and a half behind them.
The Pels are coming off a 107-88 road victory in Denver on Thursday where they took advantage of Nikola Jokic's absence to move a game above .500.
Leading scorer Zion Williamson hasn't played since the start of the new year, and while the Pels struggled without him (and a banged-up Ingram) in January they've played much better lately.
That improvement has stemmed from strong defense and excellent work on the glass (fifth in the NBA in rebound rate) while Ingram (24.3 ppg, 5.5 apg) and CJ McCollum have provided the firepower (20.9 ppg, 5.9 apg).
The Clippers are fresh off back-to-back games in Memphis. They upset the Grizzlies in a high-scoring shootout in the first game without Kawhi Leonard before losing in a low-scoring battle with Kawhi last night.
To be fair, Leonard sat out the second half last night which was necessary for him to play tonight, which he rarely does on back-to-backs.
The Clippers have been much better with Leonard in the lineup, with L.A. +11.4 points per 100 possession better when he's on the floor according to Cleaning The Glass. However, it's become apparent that without a healthy Leonard and George, they don't have what it takes to be a championship-caliber team.
Clippers vs Pelicans Over/Under analysis
It wasn't long ago that the Pelicans were a fast-paced team that struggled to defend, but this year's version has made massive strides on the defensive end of the floor.
Herb Jones and Naji Marshall have been lockdown defenders that can guard multiple positions and New Orleans has allowed a league-low 107.9 ppg since All-Star weekend. That improvement on defense has led to the Under going 17-5 in the Pels' last 22 games.
That said, the Clippers have gone a sizzling 22-9 O/U in their last 31 contests on the road. Unlike most teams, the Clips shoot almost the exact same on the road as they do at home and actually score more points in away contests (114.3 ppg to 111.8 ppg in L.A.).
They've also been playing at a faster tempo since adding Westbrook and he's a subpar defender while his tendency to turn the ball over can lead to fast break opportunities for opponents.
Clippers vs Pelicans betting trend to know
The Clippers are 6-22 ATS in their last 28 trips to New Orleans. Find more NBA betting trends for Clippers vs. Pelicans.
Clippers vs Pelicans game info
|Location:||Smoothie King Arena, New Orleans, LA|
|Date:||Saturday, April 1, 2023|
|Tip-off:||8:30 p.m. ET|