The Battle of Los Angeles resumes Sunday with the L.A. Clippers “hosting” the L.A. Lakers in the front end of a “home and home” series at Staples. The Clippers are double-digit favorites on our NBA odds board.
Jason’s record as of Apr. 4: 66-67-5 ATS, 7-13 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML
Maybe one day, the Los Angeles Lakers will look back on these difficult days and have a nice chuckle. Maybe. Until then, things are looking pretty bleak for the team that still claims to be No. 1 in the City of Angels. They’re tanking the 2014-15 season away in hopes of keeping their first-round pick this summer, which is Top-5 protected. And if that weren’t bad enough, Sunday’s opponents are the new kids in town, the Los Angeles Clippers.
At least the Lakers won’t have to honk this game in front of their own season-ticket holders. That’ll come on Tuesday, when these same two teams meet again at Staples. It’ll be the Clippers acting as the home team for Sunday’s matchup (9:30 p.m. ET, NBA-TV). And it’ll be the Clippers laying 11.5 points, according to the NBA odds at press time.
You Can’t Take It With You
We’ve had a few things to say about the Lakers (20-55 SU, 34-36-5 ATS) as an organization over the past couple of seasons, since the death of former owner Jerry Buss. Like a lot of businesses that get passed down from one generation to the next, the Lakers haven’t made this transition well. We won’t rehash the story here – you can read plenty about it on the Interwebs, as Jim Buss absorbs yet another round of criticism with this awful season drawing to a close.
Instead, we’ll just point out the relative lack of talent wearing Purple and Gold this year. Injuries have taken their toll, of course, but it still speaks to the lack of player development on this team when the lone bright spot for next year is Jordan Clarkson (16.8 PER, minus-0.6 BPM). He’s played quite well at point guard since getting called up from the Los Angeles D-Fenders in January.
But enough about the Lakers – they’re so 2010. It’s time to move on to the Clippers (51-26 SU, 36-41 ATS), who are coming off Saturday’s 107-92 win over the Denver Nuggets (+10 at home). That’s 8-1 SU and 7-2 ATS for the Clip Show over their last nine games. They’ve got nearly all their players back in the lineup; the only missing person is Jamal Crawford (17.4 PER, minus-0.9 BPM), and while he won’t play Sunday, he could be back for Tuesday’s game against the Lakers.
In Crawford’s place, Lester Hudson is the latest guard to get a 10-day contract in L.A., and he’s already drawn praise from head coach Doc Rivers. The Clippers decided not to sign Nate Robinson (10.5 PER, minus-4.5 BPM) for the remainder of the season after his second 10-day expired, although Rivers says Robinson – who suffered a bruised left knee – could be back for the 2015 NBA playoffs. Hudson should get plenty of burn on Sunday as he auditions for that job.
Before locking in your NBA picks, keep in mind that the Clipper ship could still end up at the bottom of the ocean if people start getting injured again, but as long as almost everyone’s healthy, Rivers can get away with having a bench filled with 10-days, dubious veterans like Hedo Turkoglu (10.1 PER, minus-1.1 BPM), and his son Austin (10.6 PER, minus-2.4 BPM). Crawford could be the difference-maker come playoff time as L.A.’s sixth-man, providing instant offense at 21.9 points per 36 minutes.
Until then, life’s pretty good when you’ve got a Big Three of Chris Paul (25.8 PER, plus-7.3 BPM), Blake Griffin (23.0 PER, plus-4.1 BPM) and DeAndre Jordan (20.6 PER, plus-3.7 BPM). Let’s enjoy it while we can; Jordan’s contact is up at the end of this year, and he’s looking for a max deal. Maybe he’ll be back, maybe not, but at least he’ll be motivated to perform Sunday night and every night.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Clippers