Those L.A. Clippers just keep winning basketball games. So do the Washington Wizards, although they’re having a more difficult time beating the NBA odds. Expect fireworks in D.C. this Friday.
Jason’s record as of Dec. 10: 15-14-1 ATS, 1-3 Totals
Well, the Los Angeles Clippers are doing pretty well, huh? They won their ninth straight game Wednesday night, downing the pesky Indiana Pacers 103-96 as 6.5-point home faves – what’s that? We had them at –7? Mule muffins. We’ll add a push to our running total against the NBA odds, but it was a payday for Clippers supporters, so that’s what matters. L.A. has covered six of its past seven games to creep ever closer toward profitability at 16-5 SU and 10-11 ATS.
Meanwhile, very quietly in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Wizards (15-6 SU, 9-12 ATS) are also winning some basketball games. They’ve picked up the W in six of their last seven, but cashing in has been harder to negotiate at 3-4 ATS. We’ll see these two teams battle for the first time this season when they meet Friday night (7:00 p.m. ET) at The Phone Booth; Washington is a 2.5-point dog as we go to press, down from +3 at the open.
Nothing much new to report on the Clips after Wednesday’s contest. Reserve point guard Jordan Farmar (9.5 PER) played after missing two games with a bad back, so that’s good, although Farmar hasn’t quite found his rhythm yet. He is shooting 40.4 percent from long range, though, so even if he’s been reduced to a one-trick pony, it’s a good trick to have considering there aren’t any other true point guards on the roster to relive Chris Paul (26.8 PER).
Farmar is also the only regular guy off the Clippers bench with a reputation as a decent defender – prompting head coach Doc Rivers to give his reserves what-for in the Los Angeles Times. “They need to defend,” Rivers said. “That’s how we fix it. It’s not that hard and they can do it and they’ve done it.”
In fact, Spencer Hawes (plus-1.2 DBPM) is the only one producing on defense thus far, unless you count Ekpe Udoh (plus-4.8 DBPM), and it’s clear Rivers does not. Udoh has played a total of 31 minutes this year. Add this substandard bench defense to L.A.’s No. 3-ranked offense (110.9 points per 100 possessions), and the OVER has gone 6-3 during this winning streak to sit at 12-8-1 on the season.
Wizards of Wor
It’s a holiday miracle – we’ve got early odds on a Wizards game. The roster has stabilized somewhat now that Nene (plus-2.3 DBPM) has returned from his sore knee, although he’s coming off the bench for now, and he was kept out of the second game of a back-to-back situation with the Boston Celtics. Washington went 2-1 SU and 1-2 ATS in the three games Nene did play.
Finding the right mix of players has been an ongoing experiment for head coach Randy Wittman. A dozen Wizards have played significant minutes thus far; on Wednesday, Wittman went 10-deep against the Orlando Magic (+3.5 at home), but couldn’t reach the pay window in a 91-89 nailbiter. Drew Gooden (plus-0.4 DBPM) and Garrett Temple (plus-2.3 DBPM) were the spectators on this occasion.
Okay, we need to talk about Rasual Butler (19.2 PER). Here’s a player who wasn’t even in the league two years ago. But he signed up with the Tulsa 66ers (now the Oklahoma City Blue) of the D-League, then popped up on the Pacers bench last year and re-discovered his shooting touch at 41.9 percent from long range. Butler is absolutely crushing it from downtown this year at 52.5 percent. And that’s in a very healthy 20.9 minutes per game, not just in garbage time.
It probably won’t last. But it does speak to Washington’s depth. We’re going to keep adding the Clippers to our NBA picks until they give us reason not to; however, consider this a heads-up on the Wizards. Their recipe is almost right.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Clippers -2.5 at 5Dimes