Injuries Mar Lakers-Clippers Clash Friday Night

Clippers player Blake Griffin in action

Jay Pryce

Friday, December 29, 2017 2:41 PM UTC

Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 2:41 PM UTC

The injury-riddled Lakers host city rivals the Clippers on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET) at Staples Center with Blake Griffin a game-time decision. Pick and betting preview this way.

Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles LakersFree NBA Pick: Clippers -3Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Clippers (14-19 SU, 17-16 ATS): Blake Griffin Back?

Clippers star Blake Griffin could return to the starting lineup Friday night versus the Lakers after missing the last 14 games with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. The betting line is off the board as of publication awaiting the five-time All-Star’s status. Listed as a game-time decision, Griffin told reporters “it’s a good day” after practice Thursday referring to his conditioning and future availability. Consider it a sign he’ll see some action.

The Clippers have gone 6-8 SU and 9-5 ATS with Griffin out, but should be a couple of points better overall with him on the hardwood. The defense experienced little change in his absence, yielding 105.6 points per game as opposed to 106.2 with the power forward starting. L.A. ranks 20th in efficiency, allowing 109.3 points per 100 possessions. The offense will see a small boost. The squad averages 105.9 points in games Griffin starts versus 103.9 without.

The Clippers have won their last eight straight versus the Lakers with Griffin playing. They average 108.6 points per game while holding their city rivals to 95.1 respectively. Griffin averages 18.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in 30.9 minutes.

Lakers (11-22 SU, 16-17 ATS): Lakers Ailing, Slowed, and Searching

Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball is out with a sprained shoulder, causing the team to lose its identity. It is the quickest squad in the NBA, averaging 104.1 possessions per game with Ball constantly pushing the pace. Their last two games against the Timberwolves and Grizzlies rank in the bottom five in pacing all season.

Playmaking is absent as well and the offense in a funk. Ball’s 7.1 assists per game ranks seventh in the league. The Lakers tallied a season-low 14 helpers last time out in a 109-99 loss hosting Memphis. Overall, L.A. is shooting 40.5 percent in Ball’s absence, averaging 101.5 points per game.

Brook Lopez is also out with a right ankle sprain and budding star Kyle Kuzma is questionable with a quad contusion. Along with Ball, the trio account for 40.6 points per night.

Free Pick

The Lakers offense is in disarray and will not fix itself anytime soon. Nor is this matchup ideal for the defense. The Clip are best down low, putting up the eighth-most points per game in the paint (46.3) in the NBA. The Lakers rank last in defending in the area (49.8 ppg). The Clippers are 11-3 ATS when up against a defense surrendering more than 43 points per game on average down low, the offense putting up 107.9 points per game. This number is 2.9 better than projected in the betting market. Versus those defending the area better, the team total dips to 102.6 points per game. For my NBA pick, I recommend you take the points with the Clip regardless of the spread. It will not be enough to compensate for the Lakers’ injuries, leaky rim defense, and potential Griffin return.

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