76ers vs. Clippers Preview: L.A.'s Defense Should Keep Things Close

Action Network NBA betting contributor Kenny Ducey details how to bet Friday's matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers.

76ers vs. Clippers Odds

76ers Odds -5.5
Clippers Odds +5.5
Over/Under 218
Time 10:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Philadelphia 76ers have begun to find their groove again, but now a real test comes in the form of a feisty Los Angeles Clippers team that can defend inside. Can the Sixers overcome L.A. for a rare cover, or is it time to believe in the Clippers once again?

Let’s take a look at both sides of the matchup below.

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Are the 76ers as Good as Advertised?

How good is this Sixers offense? No, that’s not a rhetorical question — though it would have been a few weeks ago. Philly came out of the All-Star break scorching hot, introducing James Harden into the starting five and reaping the rewards.

It was the No. 1 offense in basketball for about a week or two, and then things became pretty bleak. It wasn’t until the last five games that the Sixers were able to produce much of anything on that end, posting offensive ratings of at least 119 against the Dallas Mavericks, Cleveland Cavaliers and L.A. Lakers.

You can make of those performances what you wish. I still think there’s room for concern, given this team is supposed to be built to compete with good defenses and has failed to do so in recent weeks against the Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat. Though the Sixers did get the Heat last week, it came without Harden and Embiid.

The good news here is that there are no injury concerns (at least of this writing). The Sixers will be fully-staffed with an empty injury report. The bad news is that they’ve been anything but fun to bet on lately.

Philly is 3-8 against the spread in its last 11 and is coming off a five-point win over the Lakers despite being favored by double digits. On the bright side, the Sixers are 20-14-1 ATS on the road.

Can Scrappy Clippers Break Through?

The Clippers continue to garner the respect of oddsmakers, but they’ve yet to produce one of those shocking wins over a good opponent since the All-Star break. Perhaps Friday could be the night.

L.A. was right there with the Nuggets in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s loss, and if not for a 16-for-32 3-point shooting performance from Denver the Clippers may have been able to win — or at least cover the seven-point spread.  They did well to cut the deficit to three and win the battle underneath, outscoring Denver 48-42 in the paint.

Since the All-Star break, the Clippers have allowed just 60.8% shooting in the restricted area — the second-best mark in the NBA — and just 40.2% shooting overall in the paint, which ranks fourth. This is promising when you think about the matchup here against a Sixers team that will be taking the ball inside all game long between Harden and Embiid.

I should note here that aside from the regular injuries for the Clippers (Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Norman Powell) they’re listing Robert Covington as questionable with a right hand sprain. This could be a significant blow to L.A.’s defense if he can’t go.

76ers-Clippers Pick

As I noted before, the Clippers have been playing pretty decent basketball despite failing to cover in five straight. They’ve had to play the Cavaliers, Raptors, Utah Jazz and Nuggets — all playoff teams — and in each game they were given a great deal of respect as single-digit underdogs.

While the line is very fair to L.A., I still think there’s some value left in the Clippers here. Their excellence inside should make them a very difficult opponent for Philly, who takes plenty of shots inside and has struggled to shoot the three in recent games.

The Clippers should be able to use their defense to secure the cover.

Pick: Clippers +5.5 (-110)