Pelicans vs Clippers Picks and Predictions: Kawhi Carries the Load for Los Angeles

Kawhi Leonard's scoring output sees an uptick when Paul George is out of the lineup, and tonight's matchup against New Orleans sets us up perfectly to ride Special K's points prop. Read more in our Pelicans vs. Clippers betting picks.

Last Updated: Mar 25, 2023 12:31 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Kawhi Leonard Los Angeles Clippers NBA
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One bad month from the New Orleans Pelicans has completely changed their outlook on the season. 

The Pelicans went 3-13 in January, a costly month for a team that entered the month nine games over .500. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers have relied on four good weeks to surge back into position to host a playoff series, including going 6-2 in their last eight games. 

Here are our free NBA picks and predictions for the Pelicans vs Clippers on March 25.

Pelicans vs Clippers best odds

Pelicans vs Clippers picks and predictions

Sometimes a handicap is simple. There is an idea from the outset, checking a few stats reinforces that thought, and the writeup follows in short order. It happens less often than you may think, but today is fortunately one of those days.

Kawhi Leonard is fully engaged, and when that's the case, there's not many players that are better. 

And Los Angeles needs Kawhi to be fully engaged tonight. Paul George is out for the foreseeable future, or at least the rest of the regular season after hyperextending his knee on Tuesday.

Just because Los Angeles has creeped out of the utter morass of the Western Conference does not mean it can rest. Two losses in a row would plunge the Clippers back into that play-in fretting.

A win against New Orleans is a necessity, and the best way to notch a dub is by riding Kawhi tonight.

In his last six games without George this year — excluding the first game Kawhi played without George back in November because a minutes restriction skewed Kawhi’s stats — Kawhi has averaged 29.8 points on a 31.4% usage rate and 20.0 field goal attempts per game.

Admittedly, some of those defenses were less than stellar. Only the Thunder rank in the league’s top half of the six teams faced in this subset and four of them rank No. 21 or lower on the season. If there is any reason to doubt this approach, it is that the Pelicans’ defense ranks No. 5 in team defensive rating since the All-Star break, per StatMuse.

Then again, those poor defenses made for blowouts as the average margin in those six games was a whopping 13.3 points. If New Orleans can keep tonight close, then the load on Kawhi's shoulders will be even heavier.

His points prop is a reasonable 28.5 tonight, which is a number that the Clippers' star has surpassed in five of the six games he has played without George. The Nuggets held him to 24 points in the lone game that went Under, but that was also a matchup that demanded more of Kawhi defensively.

Despite boasting Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum, the Pelicans rank No. 24 in offensive rating since the All-Star break. Los Angeles’ easiest path to victory tonight is to outscore New Orleans, and that will start with Kawhi.

My best bet: Kawhi Leonard Over 28.5 points (-115)

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Pelicans vs Clippers spread analysis

This spread has held steady with Los Angeles favored by 4.5 or 5.0 since opening on Friday. Following its five-game losing streak coming out of the All-Star break, the Clippers have gone 6-3 against the spread.

It is not a massive sample size, but it shows the push Los Angeles is making.

Closing this regular season strongly could propel Los Angeles into the conference semifinals, at which point maybe, just maybe, George returns to the court.

Regardless of the likelihood of that optimism, simply closing this regular season significantly stronger than how they began it should mean the Clippers exceed bookmakers’ expectations for the next couple of weeks.

Pelicans vs Clippers Over/Under analysis

When Kawhi has played but George has not, the Under has cashed five out of six times. Those five Unders fell short of their totals by an average of 10.4 points.

As much as he is revered as a defensive stopper, George’s bucket-getting is undervalued and shows up when Kawhi is riding solo. 

This total of 223.5 is starting to reflect that, but probably not enough given New Orleans’ recent offensive struggles.

Pelicans vs Clippers betting trend to know

New Orleans has cashed the Under in four straight games and in 13 of its last 16. Find more NBA betting trends for Pelicans vs. Clippers.

Pelicans vs Clippers game info

Location: Arena, Los Angeles, CA
Date: Saturday, March 25, 2023
Tip-off: 10:30 p.m. ET

Pelicans vs Clippers key injuries

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