Clippers vs. Lakers Odds
|Over/Under||223.5 (-110 / -110)|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via <!–FanDuel–>FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Clippers will begin what many expect to be a very fruitful season on Thursday night against the Lakers. Given the Lakers’ dreadful performance on Opening Night against the Warriors, this one would appear to be rather academic for the Clippers.
However, is there more than meets the eye? How can we profit? Let’s break this one down.
Los Angeles Clippers
As I alluded to earlier, the Clippers are co-favorites to win the NBA Finals. They will return Kawhi Leonard this season to a lineup that finished ninth in the West last season and was eliminated in the play-in stage of the playoffs. In addition to the five-time All-Star being a full go for the season opener, Los Angeles will also debut John Wall as the point guard of the second unit, which was arguably already the best in basketball.
While it’s fair to temper expectations for Wall and Leonard, who are both coming off of major injuries, the rest of this roster remains mostly the same. Isaiah Hartenstein left for the Knicks, meaning Ivica Zubac will start at center and play most of the minutes there when Ty Lue doesn’t want to go small.
With that, I think it’s fair to expect some good basketball out of the Clippers. They ranked 10th in defensive efficiency after the All-Star break last season, according to NBA.com, and ended the season with five straight wins before getting bounced from the play-in tournament. This is a strong, deep group and they are deserving co-favorites to win the title. It remains to be seen when Leonard will kick it into full gear.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers could be heading for the lottery at this point. I’m (mostly) joking considering their season is just one game old, and their loss came to another co-favorite to win the Finals in the Warriors. But, are we sure this is a good basketball team?
Say what you will about Russell Westbrook, but he seemed to be the furthest thing from a problem for the Lakers on Tuesday. He came up with 11 rebounds and scored 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, and while LeBron James was just 3-of-10 from three, he, too, had 31 points and fell two assists shy of a triple-double. Anthony Davis had 27 points on 10-of-22 shooting with four steals and a block.
The Lakers got just about everything they could have asked for out of their big three, yet they never really stood a chance against Golden State. Los Angeles shot just 25% from three and got little else from the rest of the team, posting a 97.3 Offensive Rating. Still, the Lakers allowed just 107 points per 100 possessions and seemed to be stable on the defensive end. They may play defense, but it’s hard to say they’ll improve dramatically on the offensive end given they don’t have any shooting and won’t get much better nights from their three best players.
It’s entirely possible the Lakers come out and play even worse than they did on Opening Night. The Clippers were one of the strongest defenses in the league last season and should be able to throw a whole host of solid perimeter defenders — such as Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Robert Covington and Marcus Morris — on LeBron James.
The Clippers have length and that should help neutralize James and Anthony Davis. James averaged just 23.3 points against the Clippers last season with a weak 99 Offensive Rating.
I’m not going to write off the Lakers after one game, but I’m certainly not going to expect a massive step forward. Even if Leonard gives the Clippers a minimal amount, this team is still deeper and more talented than the Lakers. And, when all else fails, you can count on Ty Lue to out-scheme first-year head coach Darvin Ham.
Pick: Clippers -4 (-110)