Lakers vs. Clippers Preview: Will Offensive Struggles Continue?

Lakers vs. Clippers Odds

Lakers Odds +2.5
Clippers Odds -2.5
Over/Under 218.5
Time 10 p.m. ET
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Los Angeles Lakers had high hopes coming into this season.

With a Big 3 featuring LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, the Lakers were second behind the Nets at +425 to win the NBA title. Months later they hold a 27-34 record, ninth in the Western Conference in danger of missing the postseason all together.

Losers of six of their last seven games, the Lakers take on the Los Angeles Clippers in a rivalry game that hasn’t been competitive lately. The Clippers have won six straight in this matchup and come into this game red hot, winners of four straight and five out of their last six, including a 105-102 win over these same Lakers on Feb. 25.

Can the Lakers finally get off the snide or will the Clippers maintain their dominance in the battle for L.A.? Let’s analyze both sides and find out!

Lakers Offense Remains a Problem

The Los Angeles Lakers are losers of six out of their last seven games and have been just as bad as many of the league’s bottom feeders. Ranking 25th in Net Rating (-6.6), the Lakers are 26th in Offensive Rating (107.2) during this time period, struggling to score efficiently.

The All-Star break has done little cure the ills of this team as they’ve lost three straight games and are scoring just 99.7 points per 100 possessions, 29th among NBA teams out of the break.

LeBron James is still putting up eye popping stats at 37 years old, averaging 28.9 points on 52% shooting along with 6.3 assists and eight rebounds. But he can no longer carry a team the way he has in the past.

With Anthony Davis out due to injury, Russell Westbrook struggling and a roster full of older vets and inconsistent young players, the Lakers need the version of James we saw in Cleveland.

As Slim Charles said to Bodie in the Wire: “The thing about the old days, they’re the old days” and nothing encapsulates that more than Tuesday night’s 109-104 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, a game in which we saw Luka Doncic attacking James on switches three plays in a row in clutch time to close the game.

Aside from James being unable to stop Doncic, the Lakers defense hasn’t been the problem, as they’re seventh in Defensive Rating (110.7) over the past two weeks, per CleaningTheGlass. This team simply struggles to score, ranking 19th in half court offense points per 100 possession (94.1) and 21st in transition points per 100 possessions (2.4).

They’re 22nd in 3-point shooting percentage (34.7%) and 25th in mid range shooting percentage (39.1%). The only area of the floor where the Lakers are shooting above average is the rim (65.5%), but they’ll be facing a Clippers team which is third in field goal percentage at the rim (61.4%).

In three games against the Clippers this season, the Lakers are scoring 113.1 points per 100 possessions. It’s worth it to note that Davis did play in the first two games and they put up Offensive Ratings of 123.5 and 116.7. However, in the last matchup, a 105-102 loss, the Lakers had an Offensive Rating of just 103.5 so it remains to be seen if this offense will turn the corner here.

Clippers Getting Hot?

The Los Angeles Clippers have been the polar opposite of the Lakers recently, winning four straight games and five out of their last six. But three of those wins came against the Rockets, and one against the Lakers. Not exactly top competition.

Still, the Clippers were competitive against the best team in the NBA in the Phoenix Suns before the All-Star break and are finding ways to win without Paul George. The key to their success has been their defense, which is seventh in Defensive Rating (108.8) for the season and has really turned up over the past few weeks, ranking first among all teams in non-garbage time minutes, per to CleaningtheGlass.

This is not a great offensive team, but they’ve improved over the course of the season. For the entire season they’re just 26th in Offensive Rating (108.6) but over the past two weeks they’re 15th. They’re 14th in half court offensive points per possession (95.4) but poor in transition, so don’t expect this team to get out and run.

In the half court, the Clippers have a major edge in the shooting department in this matchup as they’re fifth in 3-point shooting percentage (37%). This is an edge which has played out in all three Clippers-Lakers matchups this season.

Lakers-Clippers Pick

Take a look at the three scores in the three matchups between the Clippers and Lakers this season: 119-115, 111-110, 105-102. While the battle for LA hasn’t exactly been a fair battle recently with the Clippers winning six straight, these are typically close and hard fought games decided by a basket or two.

It’s hard to find a huge edge on the side in this game with the Clippers priced as 2.5 point favorites. My model actually makes this game Clippers -3.5 so if you’re inclined to play a side, that would be the play, but it’s not enough for me.

However the real edge lies with the total in a game between two teams struggling on offense. While the Clippers are better offensively than the Lakers, they aren’t a juggernaut by any stretch. In addition, the Clippers are 13th in pace (98.6 possessions) and 17th in Offensive Length of Possession (14.7 secs). Although the Lakers are fifth in pace (99.9 possessions), they’re just 14th in Offensive length of possession (14.5 seconds).

My model makes this total 214.5 and with the Lakers struggling offensively against this stout Clippers defense, I think we’re looking at our second straight low scoring game in the Battle of LA.

I’ll play the under 218.5.

Pick: Under 218.5 (-110)