The Los Angeles Clippers just lost their most important player. Sucks to be them, but the Clippers will probably become a better NBA pick without Blake Griffin.
Here we go again. The Los Angeles Clippers (8-11 SU and ATS) will have to make do without Blake Griffin for a while; their franchise player sprained his left MCL during Monday’s 120-115 win over the L.A. Lakers (+4.5), and although his MRI came up clean, Griffin could be on the shelf for the next two months.
Bad news for the Clippers, but good news for our NBA picks. This team has a history of performing above expectation when Griffin is injured – which happens a lot. Let’s dig deep, peel back the layers, and get to know the real story behind the Clippers’ chances of cashing in this Thursday when they host the Utah Jazz (10-11 SU, 11-10 ATS), tipping off at 10:30 p.m. Eastern.
Here’s how the Clippers fared against the NBA odds without Griffin in the lineup, not including his first year as a pro in 2009-10, which was lost to a stress fracture in his left knee:
2012-13: 1-1 SU and ATS
2013-14: 1-1 SU and ATS
2014-15: 9-6 SU and ATS
2015-16: 31-16 SU, 27-20 ATS
2016-17: 11-10 SU and ATS
Not too shabby. Granted, the Clips usually had Chris Paul around to do the heavy lifting when Griffin wasn’t around – and when he was, for that matter. They don’t have Paul anymore, but they do have a bushel of former Houston Rockets in his place, including big man Montrezl Harrell (plus-2.3 BPM), who has played very well coming off the L.A. bench in a limited role. Harrell deserved more burn anyway; now head coach Doc Rivers doesn’t have much of a choice.
La Tour Étouffante
The Jazz find themselves in a similar situation with center Rudy Gobert (plus-3.0 BPM) out of commission for another couple of weeks or so while his bruised right knee heals up. Utah has gotten quality defensive play in the paint from plus-minus god Epke Udoh (plus-5.4 BPM), but it’s PF Jonas Jerebko (plus-1.4 BPM) and Thabo Sefolosha (plus-2.0 BPM) who have been soaking up most of Gobert’s minutes. They’re 5-4 SU and ATS since Gobert got hurt.
So what’s a bettor to do? Alas, we waited all day Wednesday for the NBA lines to come out, but it looks like there’s enough uncertainty about other injured players and their collective status to keep the oddsmakers from making a commitment. We suggest waiting to see what odds come out, and waiting until Thursday’s shoot-around to see who’s likely to play and who isn’t. Grab a soft line if you see it, and may the sphere be with you.