Free NBA Picks: Clippers at Lakers Odds Opening Night
by Alan Matthews - 10/18/2013
The Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers have a lot in common. They both play in the Staples Center. They each have won a Pacific Division title in the past two seasons. Both clubs play in front of movie stars -- the Clips' signature star is Billy Crystal, and the Lakers' is Jack Nicholson (Frankie Muniz is the Clippers’ Dyan Cannon). They both exited last year's playoffs losing four straight games.
OK, that's about it for things in common. And for the first time in years, it will probably be tougher to get a Clippers ticket than a Lakers one as the Clips are the team to beat in the division and, some think, in the Western Conference after adding the likes of J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley and Coach Doc Rivers to a 56-win team. This club looks much stronger than the team that blew a 2-0 lead in the first round of the playoffs to Memphis. The Clips have a wins total set at 57 on Bovada.
As for the Lakers? They were supposed to be the NBA's West Coast version of Heat in 2012-13 by adding Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol -- that's four future Hall of Famers, folks. We all know how it ended. Mike Brown was fired early in the season, and the team, especially Howard, never took to Coach Mike D'Antoni. Howard also clearly didn't like playing under the uber-intense glare of Kobe. L.A.'s 45 wins were its fewest in a full season since 2006-07. The Lakers snuck into the playoffs but were doomed from the start against San Antonio without the injured Kobe. It wasn't just a sweep, it was a four-game butt-kicking. Fittingly, Howard got ejected early in the third quarter of Game 4.
The Lakers obviously wanted to re-sign Howard this offseason, but there was little chance it would happen, and the half-hearted approach seemed to indicate that Lakes officials knew as much. Instead of loading up for perhaps one more title run behind a 35-year-old Kobe, the Lakers amnestied Metta World Peace (no loss there) and added the likes of Chris Kaman, Nick Young and Wesley Johnson. L.A.'s main goal is to have a ton of cap room next summer -- and it looks to have the most of any team in the NBA depending on if the Lakers re-sign Bryant -- and try and lure LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony to Hollywood. Enjoy paying the second-highest ticket prices in the NBA this year, Lakers fans! At times we could see a quintet of Elias Harris, Jordan Hill, Johnson, Jodie Meeks and Steve Blake on the court. Now you can see why L.A.'s wins total is just 36.5 at Bovada, with the “under” a -135 favorite.
Clippers at Lakers Betting Story Lines
Obviously, the big question for the opener and the first month or so of the season is Bryant's recovery from his torn Achilles'. That's a rough injury for a 20-year-old, much less someone with so much tread on the tires like Kobe. The news out of L.A. has been pretty quiet, really, but D'Antoni recently said he didn't think there was any chance Bryant would be ready for the opener. It would be a minor miracle. About the only good news about Howard's absence is that Gasol should bounce back from his worst season in the NBA as the third wheel. He's going to have to score probably 20 a game this season for L.A. to have a chance most nights -- Gasol averaged a career-low 13.7 in 2012-13. If the Lakers stink, he could be traded.
The Clippers have been arguably the NBA's most entertaining team since Chris Paul arrived with their "Lob City" style, but according to Blake Griffin, that's no more. Rivers is a defensive guy and will slow the Clippers down a bit, or at least attempt to change their identity. I'm just not sure how that's going to work with Griffin, who is still a work in progress on those mid-range jumpers. Or with center DeAndre Jordan, who can only score via dunks off misses or alley-oops. I'm sure L.A. will run when it can as Rivers is smart enough to play to his talents. The additions of Redick and Dudley address the team's biggest need from last year: perimeter/three-point shooting. If there's one worry here it's that there's not much behind either Griffin or Jordan if one were to get hurt. The Clips do a have a solid backup for Chris Paul in Darren Collison, although he's no Eric Bledsoe.
Clippers at Lakers NBA Opening Night Betting Odds and Key Trends
At Sportsbook.ag, the Clippers are currently 6.5-point favorites. There is no total yet, but I project around 198. The Clippers were 45-37 ATS last season (20-21 on the road) and 45-37 “over/under” (20-21 on the road). The Lakers were 34-46-2 ATS (19-21-1 at home) and 42-39-1 O/U (18-22-1 at home). The Clippers were 4-0 ATS against their Staples Center co-tenants last season. All four games were over the total, with a low total set at 192 and a high of 207.
Free NBA Picks: Clippers at Lakers Opening Night Betting Predictions
The Clippers had their way with the Lakers last season, sweeping their neighbors for the first time since the team moved from Buffalo. The last meeting, a 109-95 Clippers win on April 7, clinched the Pacific Division. Paul totally had his way with the overmatched Lakers point guards, averaging 24.0 points, 13.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds in the four games. Those are MVP-type numbers. Griffin averaged 21.3 ppg and 8.8 rpg.
Presuming Kobe doesn't play, no Laker starter would start for the Clippers. Rivers, being a former Celtic, probably would love to get off to a dramatic start by blowing out the Lakers. I think the Clippers do. Take them and the under because I don't see how the Lakers can get to 90 points.
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