After grinding through an 82-game regular season and an additional game in the NBA Play-In Tournament, the Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans will square off at Crypto.com Arena on Friday night with the final playoff spot in the Western Conference on the line.
The Clippers already had a chance to punch their ticket to the postseason on Tuesday night, but let a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead slip away against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Meanwhile, the Pelicans staved off elimination on Wednesday night with a 113-103 home victory over the 10-seed San Antonio Spurs.
Those results set up this enticing win-or-go-home showdown, with the winning squad earning the right to take on the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the first round.
Clippers vs Pelicans Odds
All NBA gameday odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook and current as of Friday, April 15, at 1 p.m. ET.
- Moneyline: Clippers (-110), Pelicans (-110)
- Spread: Clippers PICK (-110), Pelicans PICK (-110)
- Over/Under: Over 215.5 (-110), Under 215.5 (-110)
- Implied Score: Clippers 107.75, Pelicans 107.75
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Clippers vs Pelicans Prediction
Surprisingly, the Pelicans won three of their four meetings with the Clippers this season, but Los Angeles triumphed 119-100 in the most recent matchup on April 3. That game, which was also played in LA, would be a decent barometer for what to expect on Friday night if not for availability concerns for the Clippers.
LA has been without star forward Kawhi Leonard all season long and will now be missing star Paul George, who was placed into health and safety protocols on Friday morning. George, who just returned from injury near the end of the regular season, scored a game-high 34 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Tuesday’s loss to Minnesota.
The news of George’s absence has shifted the spread about four points, making this matchup a pick’em. We also still don’t know about the status of LA sharpshooter Luke Kennard (hamstring), who shot an NBA-best 44.9% from three-point range this season, but missed the Minnesota game after getting hurt in the season finale.
If there’s a team that could withstand notable absences in a game like this, it would be the Clippers. They’ve been in this situation a lot this year, as Kawhi hasn’t played and PG-13 only managed to suit up for 31 regular-season games.
Still, it’s a big ask, especially with the George news dropping on the morning of the game.
Clippers vs Pelicans Score Pick
Pelicans 103, Clippers 95
Los Angeles was terrific at home during the regular season (25-16) and won its last five at Crypto.com Arena. The Clippers also have a bit more playoff mettle than the Pelicans, who will rely heavily on the trio of CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, and Jonas Valanciunas.
However, without George on the floor, it’s hard to look past the star power of New Orleans.
Clippers vs Pelicans Best Bets
Pelicans Moneyline (-110)
WAGER: 1 Unit
I still think this game could be close, so I’d stay away from the spread as it moves more in New Orleans’ favor. While the Clippers have had an extra day to rest and prepare, Tyronn Lue‘s gameplan will have gone out the window on Friday morning when the George news broke.
His offensive production will be a major miss, and LA could find it difficult to keep up here. New Orleans has been a troubling matchup for the Clippers all season, so I’ll go with Ingram and McCollum to keep things rolling into the first round.
Clippers vs Pelicans: UNDER 215.5 Points (-110)
WAGER: 1 Unit
Unders have started 4-0 in the Play-In Tournament, which isn’t much of a surprise. It typically takes sportsbooks a minute to adjust to the higher defensive work rate that comes with playoff basketball.
Both teams ranked in the bottom half of the NBA in pace during the regular season, and the Clippers were in the top 10 in defensive efficiency. Look for this to be a slow grind.
Clippers vs Pelicans Parlay
Best Same-Game Parlay (+420)
WAGER: 1 Unit
- Pelicans PICK (-110)
- Reggie Jackson Over 20.5 Points (-115)
- Norman Powell Over 2.5 3PTM (-140)
I’m sticking with my pick of the Pelicans to win. Star power typically prevails in the NBA Playoffs, and New Orleans will now have two or three of the best players on the court.
With George out and Kennard potentially hobbled even if he does go, the Clippers are going to need others to pick up the slack offensively. Reggie Jackson seems the most likely candidate, so I’ll go with his Over prop, and add Norman Powell‘s three-point prop for good measure.