Although preseason form is irrelevant once the season starts, the Los Angeles Clippers have used the momentum to command a respectable 2-1 record in the first three games. After losing their season opener against the Denver Nuggets they won back-to-back games against last season’s playoff contending Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets.
They will take on the New Orleans Pelicans who have started the season well with a 2-0 record, Alvin Gentry’s team is showing early signs of being a handful in the Western Conference. The manner in which the Pelicans dismantled the Rockets on opening night sent a clear message that they are here to compete. Here are five things to watch in the Clippers and Pelicans game.
An Anthony Davis explosion, he loves facing the Clippers
For many, he is the MVP-in-waiting or the hot favorite for the MVP award. He has posted 32 points and 25 points in the last two games and he is not showing any signs of stopping any time soon. Anthony Davis enjoyed a great scoring record against the Clippers as he helped the Pelicans to a 3-1 record in the regular season as he dominated Doc Rivers’ charges. Davis scored 25-plus points in four consecutive games against the Clippers, including a 41 points performance in March.
Lou Williams’ impact
Lou Williams is arguably the league’s best bench player, he has made meaningful contributions to the Clippers’ last two victories. He is the Clippers’ third most productive player with an average of 14.3 points per game in the last three games, he has hit double figures in all three games from the bench. He will be crucial in the Clippers’ aim to beat the Pelicans, if he goes on a hot streak they could stand a chance to win.
The Tobias Harris factor
An early contender for the Most Improved Player award, Tobias Harris has embraced the mettle of being the Clippers’ primary scorer early in the season and if he continues on the same path he could become their outright go-to-guy. He is currently averaging 22.7 points per game and he has been a huge factor in the Clippers’ victories. He recorded 26 points and 23 points against OKC and the Rockets respectively, he has started the season well and he could case problems for the Pelicans.
The big contributions of the Pelicans’ role players
There’s more to the Pelicans than just Davis. The likes of Jrue Holiday, Elfrid Payton, Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle are all capable of chipping in with double figure contributions, especially Mirotic who has enjoyed back to back 30-plus point games. Randle averaged 16 points last season, he is already embracing the bench role which gives him a great chance to dominate while leading the second unit.
A battle of the bigs, Davis takes on Gortat
Davis was a big contender for the Defensive Player of the Year last season, he is not only an offensive threat. His ability as a two-way player makes him an asset on both ends of the floor. In Marcin Gortat, the Clippers have a center whose best strength is his defensive abilities, Gortat can dominate the boards as well and it will make for good entertainment to see the big men going at it. Their contrast in styles makes their duel unpredictable, which will be fun to watch.
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