OK, so did the world end as the Mayans predicted on 12/21/12? I only ask because the Los Angeles Clippers – the Clippers! – have the NBA’s best overall record at 22-6 and are on a whopping 14-game winning streak, tied for the second-longest in the league in the past five seasons. Yep, I am looking out my window and there are pigs flying. It is the first time in franchise history the Clippers have the NBA’s best winning percentage after 15 games.
The Clips do look like legitimate title contenders and are now down to +1000 to win it all on BetOnline. They are also clearly the most entertaining team in the NBA, whether you like them or not. Los Angeles reached No. 14 in the Christmas night finale, 112-100 over Denver. L.A’s strength is its depth, and that was on display against the Nuggets. The bench, led by Jamal Crawford’s 22 points, actually outscored the L.A. starters, 64-48.
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The Celtics (14-13) have been very uneven all season, but they come off one of their best efforts on Christmas, thumping the Nets 93-76 in a game that got a bit testy as things have tended to do of late in that rivalry. It was the fewest points the Celtics have allowed all season. Thanks largely to rookie Jared Sullinger (career-high 16 points) and Jeff Green, the Celtics’ bench outscored the Nets’ 43-21. It was only Boston’s fifth win in 13 road games and ended a five-game road skid. It hasn’t won more than three games in a row all season.
Celtics at Clippers Betting Story Lines
Boston is still awaiting its best perimeter defender to return: guard Avery Bradley. He’s still working his way back from shoulder surgery and has practiced a few times but won’t play on this current road trip (didn’t even travel) that ends Sunday night in Sacramento. Coach Doc Rivers said Bradley should return Jan. 2 against the Memphis Grizzlies, his original projected date. The Clippers are pretty healthy although both Lamar Odom and Eric Bledsoe are playing through nagging injuries.
Perhaps the Celtics are about to take off if last season is any indication. They had been manhandled by the Nets twice this season before Tuesday’s dominating effort. And last year the C’s took a 15-17 record into the all-star break and then won 24 of their final 34 games to become only the fourth team in NBA history to win its division after having a losing record at the break.
The Clippers are beating teams by an average of about 13 points during this winning streak. They lead the league with 15 double-digit victories and a +9.7 point differential. If the Clippers maintain somewhere near that point differential they will become just the fourth team to improve their point differential by at least five points per game in two successive seasons. Two seasons ago L.A. was outscored by 3.13 points per game and last season it outscored foes by 2.56. Los Angeles also hasn’t lost at home in a month (Nov. 26), which was its last loss overall, and has held nine consecutive opponents to less than 43 percent shooting.
Because of the lockout these teams met just once last year. Boston won 94-85 in Los Angeles behind 25 points from Paul Pierce. Rajon Rondo also outplayed Chris Paul. Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 24 points. Pierce will pass former Clippers GM Elgin Baylor in this game for 24th all-time in NBA scoring. Pierce currently has 23,144, five behind Baylor. Kevin Garnett will pass Charles Oakley for 15th on the NBA all-time games played list in this one. It will be No. 1,283.
Celtics at Clippers Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, the Clippers are eight-point favorites with the total at 193.5. Boston is 10-15-2 ATS this season (4-8-1 on road) and 15-11-1 “over/under”. The Clippers are 18-10 ATS (11-5 at home) and 15-13 O/U.
The Celtics are 1-5 ATS in their past six road games. They are 0-6 ATS in their past six games after a win by at least 10 points. The Clippers are 6-1 ATS in their past seven at home. L.A. is 6-2 ATS in its past eight after an ATS win. The over is 12-3-1 in Boston’s past 16 games playing on one day of rest. The under is 6-1 in the Clippers’ past seven after an ATS win. The underdog has covered the past seven in this series.
NBA Picks: Celtics at Clippers Betting Predictions
The Celtics have played two Western Conference teams on the road so far and they lost both by double digits (in Houston and San Antonio). And they haven’t had back-to-back strong road games since Nov. 10 and 12. The Clippers, meanwhile, have won their past eight home games all by double digits. There’s little doubt in my mind that L.A. wins, but eight points is too many. Take Boston and the over.
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