Clippers Nearing Full Strength
Very soon, it will be hard to argue that the Los Angeles Clippers aren't the deepest team in the NBA, especially after acquiring veterans Glen Davis and Danny Granger via buyouts.
The Clippers (39-29-1 ATS, 36-23-1 O/U at sportsbooks) have been without their big offseason acquisition, guard J.J. Redick since Feb. 3 due to a herniated disc in his back (he also missed 21 games earlier this year with a broken wrist). Just a week or so ago there was talk about possibly shutting Redick down for the season but he returned to practice on Thursday. Redick won't play in this game but it's obviously a great sign for Coach Doc Rivers' club.
Fellow guards Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison are expected to return Saturday barring a setback. Crawford, one of the leading contenders for NBA Sixth Man of the Year, has missed five straight games and eight of nine with strained calf. Collison, who has largely been terrific starting alongside Chris Paul with Crawford out -- Redick would be starting at shooting guard were he healthy -- missed the past two games with a stomach bug. Collison has started seven games this month and averaged 16.3 points while shooting 49.4 percent from the field and playing at least 40 minutes in four of those games.
The Clippers have won 11 of 12 but that loss was last time out as host Denver ended their-season high 11-game winning streak, 110-100 on Monday. It wasn't an unforeseen result as the Clippers had to play Sunday night against Cleveland and it's never easy to play in the high altitude in Denver in the second of a back-to-back. L.A. looked winded in the fourth quarter when it was outscored 27-17 and held without any points in the final 3:31. Blake Griffin had 26 points, his 27th straight game with at least 20, but was only 7-for-25 from the field. Chris Paul had 29 points and seven assists. The Clips had to start Willie Green again at guard with Collison out and Green had just eight points in 30 minutes.
Another Lost Season
The Pistons (29-38-1 ATS,46-22 O/U at sportsbooks) lost their 12th straight road game this season in Phoenix on Friday night, 98-92, and have two away wins in 2014. One is in Philadelphia so that shouldn't count. It's the team's longest away skid since the 1993 season. One of the few bright spots this season has been the growth of second-year center Andre Drummond. He's averaging 13.1 points and 12.8 rebounds. Drummond had essentially missed two straight games (played five minutes in one) with a neck injury but was back Friday and had 13 points and 16 rebounds.
There are few locks in sports but here is one: Pistons General Manager Joe Dumars will be fired after this season. He's still living off his playing days with the Bad Boys and that unlikely 2004 championship while he was the GM. The Pistons will finish with a losing record for the sixth straight year and won't have any cap room to do much this summer after overpaying for Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings last offseason. Interim coach John Loyer won't keep his job, either. Let the Tom Izzo rumors begin. Maybe if Sparty wins a title Izzo might finally be ready to leave East Lansing and head 90 miles or so down the road.
The Clippers won 112-103 in Detroit as 3.5-point favorites on NBA odds Jan. 20 (over 208.5 total). DeAndre Jordan was a beast with 16 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks. Here is how those 16 points came about: seven dunks, a layup and six missed free throws in six attempts. Beautiful! Crawford had 26 points, Griffin 25 and Redick 20 (two four-point plays) as L.A. hit 55.6 percent of its shots. Paul was out with a shoulder injury. Rodney Stuckey had 29 for the Pistons and Drummond 15 points and 11 rebounds, but Brandon Jennings had the second scoreless game of his NBA career; he played 28 minutes and was 0-for-7 from the field and didn't get to the line. Greg Monroe had just six points. L.A. also has won two straight at home in this series.
NBA Free Picks
Clippers -13.5 and the over 215.5 on NBA odds for our basketball picks. L.A. essentially just had another All-Star Break in not having played since Monday while the Pistons will be gassed. The over is 8-3 in L.A.'s past 11 against teams with a losing record. Detroit hasn't covered its past five against teams with a winning record.