Clippers vs Pelicans Picks and Predictions: NOLA Resurgence Continues vs Flailing L.A.

The Pelicans won an important Western Conference matchup Tuesday vs. Minnesota and can pick up another game in the play-in race on Thursday, as the Clippers travel to New Orleans. It's a good matchup for the Pels — find out why with our NBA betting picks.

Last Updated: Jan 13, 2022 11:59 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Jonas Valanciunas New Orleans Pelicans NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Two potential play-in teams in the Western Conference will clash on Thursday night in New Orleans, as the L.A. Clippers head on the road to face the Pelicans. 

L.A. took advantage of a Denver collapse on Tuesday to win its second straight and hit .500 at the halfway point of the season, while a Brandon Ingram buzzer-beater helped the Pels survive against a lethargic Timberwolves performance in their previous game.

Here are our free NBA picks and predictions for Clippers vs. Pelicans with tipoff on January 13. 

Clippers vs Pelicans odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

The line opened with New Orleans between a 2.5- and 3.5-point favorite, and now sit at -3.5 at most books. The total hit the board at as high as 216.5 but action on the Under has seen it drop to between 215 and 214.5.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right until tip-off and be sure to check out the full NBA odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.

Clippers vs Pelicans predictions

Predictions made on 01/13/2022 at 12:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Clippers vs Pelicans game info

Location: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
Date: Thursday, January 13, 2022
Tip-off: 8:00 p.m. ET

Clippers vs Pelicans betting preview


Clippers: Justise Winslow SF (Out), Luke Kennard SG (Out), Isaiah Hartenstein C (Out), Paul George SF (Out), Kawhi Leonard SF (Out).
Pelicans: Zion Williamson PF (Out), Kira Lewis Jr. PG (Out).
Find our latest NBA injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Under is 6-1 in the Pelicans' last seven games as a home favorite. Find more NBA betting trends for Clippers vs. Pelicans.

Clippers vs Pelicans picks and predictions

Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.

There isn't much between these Western Conference foes, with the six games separating the two largely a product of a terrible start for New Orleans and a strong start by Los Angeles.

L.A. is 11-14 in its last 25 games after a 9-6 start, while NOLA is 13-12 in its last 25 after a 2-13 start. As it currently stands, especially with Paul George's return this year uncertain, the two are likely to be in the play-in mix by the end of the season.

Both teams have been terrible on offense this season, sitting in the Bottom 10 in adjusted rating, and are among the league's leaders in 2-point rate. Between shot selection and missing stars who happen to be among the league's most efficient scorers, it's difficult to see how either team surges back into the top half of the league on the offensive end.  

Frustratingly, with two great individual defenders in Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Herb Jones, New Orleans' defense has been even worse than its offense. The Pels are 27th in adjusted defensive efficiency, sunk by youth, a lack of size, and carelessness as it relates to the team's best player in Brandon Ingram.

With two bad offenses and a typically poor New Orleans defense involved, the only good unit here is of note. Despite missing two incredibly versatile and tough defenders in Kawhi Leonard and George, L.A.'s defense has remained strong this year. The Clips are fourth in adjusted defensive rating but the Pels match up well with them.

New Orleans, like most young teams, wants to get out and run in transition, and it has excelled doing so this year. The Pelicans rank second in transition efficiency and 10th in fastbreak points per game, turning chances on the break into points consistently. They should get plenty of those opportunities on Thursday, as L.A. is ninth in turnovers per possession and concede the eight-most fastbreak points per game.

The Pelicans took advantage of a sloppy Wolves half-court offense and confused transition defense on Tuesday and should do the same here, covering the spread as home favorites. 

Prediction: Pelicans -3.5 (-110)

It's already dropped a bit but the total isn't low enough for us to against what should be an obvious Under.

Both offenses involved here have been terrible on the season, as L.A. ranks 27th and New Orleans 23rd in offensive rating adjusted for opponent. Obviously, missing Leonard and Zion Williamson for the full season, and George for an extended period, doesn't help matters but both teams' flaws run deeper than health.

The Pelicans and Clippers both have one of the worst combinations you can have, statistically speaking, as they're inefficient in their shot selection and don't shoot well overall. L.A. is 18th and New Orleans is 21st in 3-point rate, with both teams taking fewer than 40% of their shots from beyond the arc. They both are in the Bottom 10 in effective field goal percentage, with the Clips 21st and Pels 27th.

To solidify a matchup headed toward the Under is the pace of both teams, which is middling and unlikely to send this one to a high-flying back-and-forth. 

Prediction: Under 215 (-110)

Like most teams that play small, the Clippers' small ball tendencies can be a blessing and a curse. At times, they can run and shoot teams off the floor. In other matchups, they get beaten up and overwhelmed by a big they have no chance of defending. Enter Thursday's meeting with the Pelicans and center Jonas Valanciunas. 

The bruising big man is having an excellent start to life in New Orleans, exceeding or approaching previous career highs in nearly every category. Valanciunas consistently shows up in favorable matchups and delivers loaded stat lines against exploitable opponents, as evidenced by the Pels' previous two meetings with L.A. this year.

In the first meeting, JV posted 26 points and pulled down 13 boards before improving on those numbers in a rematch 10 days later, scoring 39 points with 15 rebounds. Don't expect his numbers to shrink in the third meeting, either. L.A. is among the league's worst rebounding teams, sitting 27th in rebound rate, and allow the fourth-most points in the paint — where JV predominantly works — per game.

For the third time in three games against the Clippers, count on Valanciunas to easily clear his points + rebounds total. 

Pick: Jonas Valanciunas Over 29.5 points + rebounds (-110)

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