The L.A. Clippers are on an eight-game winning streak at 6-2 against the NBA odds. The Indiana Pacers have lost five in a row at 2-3 ATS. Seems pretty cut-and-dried for Wednesday’s matchup at the Fieldhouse
Jason’s record as of Dec. 9: 15-14 ATS, 0-3 Totals
The Blake Griffin MVP Watch is in full effect. Griffin hit an unlikely game-winning 3-pointer Monday night against the Phoenix Suns, getting a kind roll off the front iron as his Los Angeles Clippers won 121-120 in overtime. Unfortunately for L.A. supporters, it wasn’t enough to cover the 7.5-point spread on the NBA odds board.
Oh well. The victory still made it eight in a row for the Clippers (15-5 SU, 9-11 ATS), who are moving their way up the Western Conference standings. They should have a relatively easy game tonight against the Indiana Pacers (7-14 SU, 12-8-1 ATS), who have lost five straight after a somewhat promising start. Tip-off form the Fieldhouse is at 7:00 p.m. Eastern; Los Angeles opened as a 6-point chalk before moving to –6.5 at press time, with a total of 200 points.
Everyone here at the home office has plenty of respect for what the Clippers have accomplished the past few years, especially under trying circumstances vis-à-vis their ownership situation. But we still faded them twice this year as big home favorites, once against the Suns (+7, –105) and once against the Orlando Magic (+14.5). Los Angeles covered both those games. But we also followed the Clippers in their game against the Miami Heat (+4 at home), and that worked out all right when L.A. won 110-93.
We’re also 1-1 with our Indiana basketball picks thus far. They couldn’t get the job done early on against those pesky Denver Nuggets (+2.5 away), but the Pacers paid off last week as 8.5-point road dogs versus the Portland Trail Blazers. In theory, Indiana should have some betting value here as an undervalued commodity in the Eastern Conference.
Most Valuable Pitchman
In theory. The Clippers are on a serious roll right now, finding their rhythm again with last year’s starting five back in business, plus added bench strength from Spencer Hawes (plus-0.2 BPM). And as overvalued as Griffin may be (plus-1.9 BPM), he’s still a highly valuable player at 25.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists per 36 minutes. We’d just like to see some defense to go along with that production before they start handing out the hardware.
But we’re not betting on who will win the MVP award. We’re betting on what will happen tonight, and besides, the Clippers are playing good enough team defense to rank No. 12 in the league in efficiency at 103.0 points allowed per 100 possessions. That’s down a shade from 102.1 points allowed last year; having Matt Barnes (plus-0.2 DBPM) back in the starting lineup should help L.A. narrow that gap. Jamal Crawford (minus-2.4 DBPM) is better suited as a sixth-man gunner at 22.3 points per 36 minutes, second only to Griffin in team scoring.
These Dogs Are Barking
Things were supposed to be looking up for the Pacers right about now, with all these injured players coming back. But then the needle moved back in the other direction; center Ian Mahinmi (plus-2.4 DBPM) suffered a torn plantar fascia in Friday’s 102-101 overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings. Indiana got paid anyway as a 3-point road dog, but the weakened frontline couldn’t handle the Atlanta Hawks (+1 away) on Monday, losing 108-92.
The Pacers have played well enough this year to rate a minus-2.54 SRS at Basketball Reference, ahead of several teams in the Eastern Conference with better records. The Clippers are second in the West at plus-6.99 SRS, so if you give three points for home-court advantage, that’s about a 6.5-point difference in L.A.’s favor. The NBA odds are tight, but we’ll make our NBA pick the Clippers based on their hot streak and Mahinmi’s injury.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Clippers