Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to April 4 inclusive:
The 2013-14 NBA regular season can’t end a moment too soon for the Los Angeles Lakers. But on Sunday, they can salvage an ounce or two of local pride by beating those upstart Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. The Clippers have a 2-1 SU and ATS edge in the season series; the NBA odds board has the Pacific Division leaders laying 16 points in their fourth and final meeting, with a pneumatically enhanced total of 226 points.
Too many points? Maybe not; on March 6, the Clippers absolutely humiliated the Lakers 142-94 as 11-point “home” faves. Eight different Clippers scored in double figures. Reggie Bullock (7.4 PER) scored 11 points. It was both the biggest blowout win in Clippers history and the worst loss in Lakers history. Should we not expect history to repeat itself on Sunday?
Fast and Furious 3
Perhaps not to the same degree. Yes, it’s been a horrible season for the Lakers (25-51 SU, 38-37-1 ATS), and there’s no question they’ve ceded the L.A. basketball throne to the Clippers (54-23 SU, 43-33-1 ATS) for the moment. But the Purple and Gold have managed to beat the NBA betting lines more often than not; they’re running the second-fastest offense in the league under coach Mike D’Antoni, and they’re fourth in the NBA in 3-point accuracy at 38.3 percent while jacking up the sixth-highest volume from downtown. That’ll earn you a lot of covers, even when everything else is going to heck.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, they’re not getting (or preventing) a lot of second-chance shots. They’re last in the NBA in offensive and defensive rebound rate. This is partly because Pau Gasol (19.4 PER) has missed 16 games – he won’t play on Sunday, either, and could be shut down for the rest of the season with vertigo. But it’s also because both Jordan Hill (18.8 PER) and Chris Kaman (17.1 PER) have spent so much time in D’Antoni’s doghouse.
We’ve seen Kaman play some very good basketball lately, but he won’t be available on Sunday, either, after suffering a strained calf earlier this week. That means we’ll see plenty of Ryan Kelly (13.5 PER) and Robert Sacre (12.0 PER), the only other bigs in the Laker lineup. And that could mean we see yet another embarrassing loss to the Clippers.
When you’re dealing with the Clips, you’re dealing with the most efficient offense in the NBA (109.4 points per 100 possessions, tied with the Miami Heat at press time). But you’re also facing a team that only ranks No. 19 in offensive rebound rate and No. 26 on the defensive glass. I’ve talked before about how the Clippers could be vulnerable against bigger teams with a lot of depth at center. The Lakers will not be one of those teams on Sunday.
That was also the case last month in that blowout loss. Hill and Kaman were both out, and the Clippers won the rebounding battle 64-33, as DeAndre Jordan (18.0 PER), Blake Griffin (23.8 PER) and Matt Barnes (11.8 PER) each finished with a double-double. The Clippers ended up with 17 more shot attempts than the Lakers. It’s very difficult to lose an NBA game by 16 points, but that’s one of the ways to do it. And by the way, the Lakers are 0-3 SU and ATS this year when getting at least 16 points. The Clippers are 5-0 SU and 3-1-1 ATS when laying at least 16 points. May the chalk be with you.
NBA Pick: Take the Clippers –16 (–106) at SBOBET