How things have changed in Los Angeles this season. The perennial doormat Clippers are now contenders and the perennial World Championship contender Lakers are spiraling downward.
10* graded play on the Los Angeles Lakers as they take on the city rival Los Angeles Clippers set to start at 10:35 PM ET. This game will be televised by NBA TV.
The Clippers are in first place in the Pacific division of the Western Conference with a 9-5 record and lead the Lakers by just one game. Due to the compacted NBA schedule, somehow the Lakers have played four more games than the Clippers entering this game. The Lakers have posted a 9-2 home mark, with one of those losses to the Clippers earlier this season.
In a rare occurrence, the Lakers are 10th in the Western Conference, but just half a game behind Memphis, who hold down the eighth and final playoff seed. The Clippers have the third seed, only because they are leading the Pacific division. A loss to the Lakers tonight could see the two teams flip flop conference positions, but keep in mind there are about 50 games to be played.
The Lakers lost a significant talent and depth when Lamar Odem was so rudely dealt to the Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers are continuing to splutter and their team identity is a work in progress. Adding to the Laker issues is first year coach Mike Brown feeling his way through the early part of the season attempting to find the right player combinations that will produce the best team results.
Pau Gasol, for some reason unknown to me, is playing out of the box far more this season than any other time in his career. Brown mostly lamented the team's inconsistent defense that allowed Indiana to rally Sunday from a double-digit deficit, but Bynum, Barnes and Pau Gasol alike argued the team's problems point more to their offense. The Lakers have not scored more than 100 points in 11 straight games, have lost three straight games, and six straight games against the spread.
The Lakers rank 20th in total offense, averaging just 92.3 points per game despite adding more reserve shooters to the lineup in Jason Kapono and Troy Murphy. It is shocking to see the Lakers dead last in three-point shooting, connecting on just 25.6% of those shot attempts. Somehow, Kobe Bryant leads the league, averaging 30.6 points per game, but his 38.7 minutes per contest hardly serves as a long-term strategy. Bynum is making strides in his decision making in the post.
The Lakers must adopt and ‘inside-out’ offensive scheme with both Bynum and Gasol scoring options in the paint. They were very successful under former Hall-of-Fame coach Jackson taking advantage of their length and power in the paint on both ends of the court. I fully expect the lakers to come out flying offensively, looking for fast break scoring opportunities on missed Clipper shots. The Lakers are still a vastly better team than the Clippers and for once this season the Lakers have had some rest entering this game.
My proprietary sports betting database and simulator show a high probability that the Lakers will win this game by six or more points.
Take the Lakers for a 10* Titan Play tonight.