Lakers vs. Clippers: Back Season Series Sweep in Battle of LA

Tyler Schmidt breaks down the NBA matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers on Wednesday, April 5 and shares his betting preview & prediction.

Lakers vs. Clippers Odds

Lakers Odds +4
Clippers Odds -4
Over/Under 229
Time 10 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The “Battle of LA” has a bit more intrigue tonight as both the Lakers and Clippers have a record of 41-38. They are in the middle of the logjam Western Conference playoff race as both are trying to avoid the play-in tournament.

The Lakers are playing on a back-to-back after surviving a scare from the Jazz last night. They won 135-133 in overtime as they got massive performances from Anthony Davis and LeBron James. However, both are “uncertain” for tonight’s game, which really puts us in a tough spot from a betting angle.

Listed as the home team, the Clippers are four-point favorites as Paul George remains out with a knee injury. There is a chance this line will move drastically if the Lakers are without three of their best players. I would jump on this Clippers spread immediately in anticipation of the Lakers resting key players.

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Los Angeles Lakers

Coming off of a back-to-back, the Lakers have been dominant lately by winning seven of their last eight games. They control their own destiny for the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference, which would mean a date with the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs. It is clear they do not want that matchup.

Not only are Anthony Davis and LeBron James “uncertain” for tonight, but so is their point guard D’Angelo Russell. With home games against the Suns and Jazz after tonight, the Lakers may throw the white flag on the No. 5 seed and take their chances at the No. 6 seed or be entered into the play-in tournament.

The strategy may pay off as the Suns are currently the favorites to win the Western Conference.  Anthony Davis has been incredibly impressive lately with 37+ points in four of his last six games. However, he is one of three players who logged 42 minutes last night, and we already know how fragile Davis can be.

LeBron James, who has been dealing with his own injuries, played 38 minutes last night while recording 37 points and the game-winning bucket. The Lakers have won four of their last five games since his return from injury. If Davis and James are able to play, I would love to take the Lakers in this spot, but their status is in doubt.

One positive if Davis and James are out is we can see a ceiling performance from Austin Reaves. Since the All-Star Break, Reaves is averaging 17.5 points per game as he has shot over 50% from the field in 15 of those 20 games. The spread is only four points, but it will be tough if the Lakers are this shorthanded.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are trying to hold on for dear life as they continue to navigate without Paul George. The All-Star has been out for six straight games and may not return until the playoffs. Overall this season, the Clippers have a 9-14 record without George as their points per game drops from 114.3 to 110.2.

In all three Clippers victories over the Lakers this season, George was the leading scorer. He leads the team in scoring, but luckily the Clippers can rely on their other All-Star, Kawhi Leonard. The Klaw is coming off of a 40-point game where he shot 15-of-28 from the field and 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Leonard is shooting 60.4% from the field in his two games against the Lakers.

Not only will Leonard need to step up without George, but so will point guard Russell Westbrook. Since being acquired at the trade deadline, Westbrook is averaging 15.2 points and 7.8 assists per game, while shooting a career-high 48.4% from the field. He has recorded double-digit assists in three straight games.

Outside of Leonard and Westbrook, the Clippers have a bunch of role players who can perform on any given night. Shooting guard Norman Powell is most notable as he has scored double-digit points in each of his last three games since returning from injury. He also is third on the team in scoring overall this season.

The Lakers rank fourth in Pace this season, while the Clippers rank 24th. With such a large contrast in styles, it is difficult to predict if this game will go over or under the spread of 229 points. I would rather take my chances on betting the Clippers as soon as possible before this line potentially rises.

Lakers-Clippers Pick

With the status of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell in jeopardy, take the Clippers at -4 on the spread. If all three Lakers starters are ruled out, this line could jump substantially. It seems the Lakers will either have James and Davis both sit or both play, instead of one of them sitting out.

In anticipation of both James and Davis missing this game, I would bet the Clippers right now and take them up to -7.5 points. The Clippers already have the tiebreaker over the Lakers as they go for the season sweep tonight. Even if James and Davis do play, getting the Clippers at -4 is still a strong bet. However, the upside is massive if the injury news breaks our way.