Clearly the marquee matchup Tuesday is between Golden State and the L.A. Clippers, teams that have clinched a playoff spot and enter on a combined winning streak of 16 straight.
Warriors Can Coast Rest of Way
I wouldn't recommend backing Golden State much the rest of the regular season. Sure, the Warriors might be the NBA's best team at 60-13, but they have nothing to play for. They already have clinched the top seed in the West and soon will officially clinch the No. 1 overall seed over Atlanta for home-court advantage in the NBA Finals should those two meet.
Thus I expect Warriors coach Steve Kerr to start resting his guys, especially in road games. He did Saturday in Milwaukee, with forwards Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green taking a seat in the second of a back-to-back. Golden State won easily regardless, 108-95, its ninth straight victory -- all but one of those has been by double digits. That 60th win set a franchise record and made the Warriors the 13th team in league history with at least 60 wins in 73 games (record through that many is 65 wins by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls that won a NBA-record 72 games overall). Nine of the previous 12 to do it won the championship. The three that didn't: 2008-09 Cavaliers (lost in East Finals), 2006-07 Mavericks (lost in first round) and 1972-73 Celtics (lost in East Finals).
Golden State was 12-for-25 from long range against the Bucks and broke the team record for made 3-pointers in a season of 774 set last year. The Warriors now have 784, second to Houston (839) in the NBA. Even if Kerr doesn't rest someone like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson or Andrew Bogut in this one, expect him to cut back the minutes. Against the Bucks, for example, Bogut played only 19.
The Warriors are 44-28-1 against the betting spread this season and 34-39 'over/under.'
Clippers Have Eyes On Second Seed
Los Angeles (49-25) has clinched a playoff spot but still has the motivation of trying to finish as high as second in the West. Currently the Clippers are No. 5, only 1.5 games behind second-place Houston. The benefit of getting the No. 2 would be to avoid these Warriors until potentially the Western Conference Finals. The Clippers enter this on a seven-game winning streak, their second-longest of the year. They closed out a 3-0 road trip with a 119-106 win in Boston on Sunday, L.A.'s third straight victory by at least 13 points. J.J. Redick had 27 points and Chris Paul 21 points and 10 assists as the Clippers led by as much as 35 points against Coach Doc Rivers' former team.
About the only negative from that win was the continued absurdly bad free-throw shooting by Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. He was just 3-for-15 from the line. I mean, 10-year-old girls can make more than that. Jordan leads the NBA in field-goal percentage at .711 but is hitting .387 from the charity stripe. People are going to continue to hack Jordan and send him to the line. It's good strategy.
L.A. has played the past 13 games without sixth man Jamal Crawford due to a calf injury and he's not playing here. Crawford has a tentative return date of April 7. The Clippers are 34-30 against the spread and 34-37-3 'over/under' on NBA odds.
Golden State leads 2-1 but lost the only trip to the Clippers, 100-86 on Christmas Day. The Clippers had Crawford then and he scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter when L.A. outscored Golden State 27-16. Bogut missed the game for the Warriors. The Clippers have beaten the Warriors at least once in 28 consecutive seasons since 1987-88, their longest such streak against any club. In the most recent meeting, the Warriors won 106-98 in Oakland on March 8. Shaun Livingston had a season-high 21 points off the bench for Golden State. Curry struggled a bit with only 12 points. Austin Rivers led the Clippers with 22 points. Blake Griffin and Crawford were out. The home team has won the past 10 regular-season matchups between these two.
NBA Free Picks: Take the points and go 'over' the big total between the NBA's top two scoring offenses for this NBA pick. The home team has covered seven of the past nine meetings. The over is 8-2 in the past 10 in L.A.