Lakers vs. Clippers Preview: Rested Clippers Have Slight Edge

Action Network contributor Jacob McKenna previews how to bet Thursday's matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers.

Lakers vs. Clippers Odds

Lakers Odds +3.5
Clippers Odds -3.5
Over/Under 217.5
Time 10 p.m. ET
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The battle for Los Angeles will take place for the second time this season when the Clippers and Lakers clash on Thursday night.

Neither team has lived up to its expectations, and as a result both find themselves in the bottom half of the Western Conference. The Clippers enter this matchup with an overall record of 26-27 and in eighth in the West, and the Lakers are right behind them in ninth with 25 wins and 27 losses.

This is the second night of a back-to-back for the Lakers, and both squads are facing injuries to some key players, which complicates things even further. Can the Lakers string together a solid performance for the second night in a row, or will we see what appears to be a stronger Clippers team take control and beat the Lakers for the second time this season?

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Lakers Still Searching for Consistency

LeBron James has missed four consecutive games due to swelling in his left knee, which has been the main cause for the Lakers’ recent slump.

During those four games, this Lakers team has won just one game and has looked a bit slow on the offensive end of the floor. In that span of time, they have seen their average points per game drop to 105.3 when compared to their season average of 110.8, and as a team they have shot just 44% from the field.

However, according to NBA Advanced Stats, this Lakers team has posted a Defensive Rating of 111.8 during James’ absence, which is tied for 10th in the NBA in that time. The return of Anthony Davis has helped a ton on that end of the floor, as he is averaging three blocks per game since making his return, and could once again be a difference maker in this one.

Davis was certainly the difference maker in a five-point victory against Portland on Wednesday, putting up 30 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, and three blocks in 36 minutes. He led the team in several categories, and played a role in holding Portland to scoring just 94 total points, shooting 36% from the floor overall, and shooting 33% from behind the arc.

If he can replicate that kind of performance again in this one, the Lake Show could be on their way to a win in back-to-back nights.

Clippers Scoring Well, But Can’t Defend

Paul George has missed the last 21 games for the Clippers, a stretch of time that has not been friendly for this squad.

In their time without George, L.A. has gone just 9-12 overall and has turned into a relatively average team that is just trying to stay afloat, as evidenced by their 5-5 record in their last 10 games. However, there have been a few promising signs recently that could indicate this team is starting to find a groove again.

The Clippers have posted an Offensive Rating of 113 in their last 10 according to NBA Advanced Stats, a rather large improvement from their season rating of 106.8. A huge reason for their recent success has been their ability to sink 3s, an area of the floor where the Clippers are shooting 37.3% from in their last 10 games, the fourth-best mark in the NBA.

On the other hand, the Clippers’ defense has not come together nearly as well as their offense has recently.

In their last 10 games they are holding their opponents to shooting 45% from the field, fifth best in the NBA, but the Clippers have seen their Defensive Rating climb to 111.8, and they are surrendering the eighth most points per game in the paint with 50.8.

L.A.’s struggles on defense were on full display in their most recent game against the Pacers, a game in which Indiana shot 53% from the floor and 48% from deep on their way to 122-116 victory. The Pacers managed to do that without Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis as well, which makes that loss look even worse.

The Clippers’ have certainly found a rhythm on offense again, but they will need to combine with improved play on defense for them to have a chance in this one.

Lakers-Clippers Pick

The absence of George has certainly taken its toll on the Clippers, and even though their play on the defensive end as of late has not been what we are used to seeing, I think they are in a much better position coming into this matchup.

The Lakers’ offense has looked totally stale without LeBron James, and given that it is likely that he will miss his fifth consecutive game, I don’t forecast that changing in this one. Anthony Davis has stepped up in his absence, but he came into the game against Portland as questionable with a wrist injury and could join James on the sideline.

Furthermore, the Clippers have had two days of rest to regroup, and the Lake Show is 2-4 straight up this season in back-to-backs, which makes this a great bounce-back for the Clippers after a disappointing loss on Monday.

Pick: Clippers -3.5