The Clippers are 9.5-point favorites on tonight's NBA odds against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Those placing picks should keep in mind L.A. could sink to 7th in the West with a loss.
West Standings A Jumble
The Clippers (40-23) have lost two straight games and are fifth in the West, but just half-game over No. 7 San Antonio, which is tied in the loss column. There's still plenty of season left, but the No. 7 seed probably has to play Memphis in the first round of the playoffs. Of course there's no easy matchup in the West so maybe it doesn't matter. However, the Clippers clearly would rather play Houston, Portland or Dallas in the first round. The Clippers are a combined 6-2 this season against those teams. They are 1-2 vs. Memphis.
This is the second of a back-to-back for L.A. as it lost 106-98 in Golden State on Sunday -- no shame there. It was the Warriors' seventh straight home win in the series (including playoffs). Austin Rivers had 22 points off the bench and JJ Redick scored 18 points to lead Los Angeles. It was the 12th straight game the Clippers played without All-Star forward Blake Griffin. The team is 7-5 in that stretch, and Griffin's return remains indefinite (it won't be here but maybe this weekend). L.A. was also without potential Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford for a second straight game to a bruised right calf and he's out here. Griffin likely will be back before Crawford, according to Coach Doc Rivers. Because of that Crawford injury the team signed Nate Robinson to a 10-day contract, and he had five points and three helpers in 20 minutes against the Warriors. In addition, swingman Matt Barnes returned from missing two games with a hamstring injury and had nine points in 23 minutes. The Clippers avoided potential disaster when Chris Paul went for X-rays on his knee after the game. Those proved clear and Paul says he's fine and will play Monday.
Los Angeles is 27-36 against the NBA odds spread and 27-33-3 'over/under' at sportsbooks.
Wolves Already Looking Toward Next Season
Minnesota (14-47) obviously doesn't have to worry about playoff seeding but it does lottery seeding. The Wolves are last in the West but two games "behind" the Knicks in the race for the most ping-pong balls in the lottery. They do come off a 121-113 upset of Portland on Saturday, although that was probably a huge trap game for Portland in the wake of losing team leader Wesley Matthews to a season-ending injury in the team's last game.
Kevin Martin had 29 points against the Blazers and Gary Neal 27 off the bench. Ricky Rubio had 13 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds, while expected NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins had 18 points. The future is actually fairly bright with Minnesota with Wiggins, a few other young players with potential and a high pick in the 2015 draft. Of course the Timberwolves acquired franchise icon Kevin Garnett at the trade deadline in a largely symbolic move, and he will take sole possession of fifth place on the NBA's list of all-time games played on Monday (assuming he plays). He's currently tied at No. 5 with Kevin Willis at 1,424. The record is 1,611 by Robert Parish. I doubt Garnett reaches that. He hasn't said whether or not he will return next season.
The Timberwolves are 28-32-1 against the NBA betting spread this season and 33-27-1 'over/under.'
This is the last meeting of the season with Los Angeles leading 2-0. On Dec. 1 in Los Angeles, the Clippers were 15-point favorites on NBA odds and rolled 127-101 (total set at 216). It was their biggest win ever in the series. Redick and Griffin each had 23 points despite sitting out the fourth quarter for L.A. Shabazz Muhammad had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Timberwolves. He's now out for the season. Three current Wolves starters, Rubio, Martin and Nikola Pekovic, were all out injured. Last Monday at Minnesota, the Clippers were -6.5 at sportsbooks (total 204.5) and won 110-105. Paul had 26 points and 14 assists, while DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 18 rebounds. Rubio led the Wolves with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists (fourth career triple-double), but Pekovic and Martin were out. Minnesota was just 1-for-14 from the floor in the fourth quarter. The Clippers have won 11 straight in this series. The streak is six in a row at home.