It’s Lonzo Time! Lakers-Clippers Clash In Hyped Opener

lonzo ball

Jay Pryce

Thursday, October 19, 2017 1:19 PM UTC

Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 1:19 PM UTC

It’s officially Lonzo Ball time in L.A. The No. 2 overall pick is set to start at point guard when the Lakers and Clippers clash Thursday night (10:30 ET) at Staples Center. The Clip lay 5 points. What’s your prediction? Check out ours here.

Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers (+5)

It’s Zo time! The Lakers’ Lonzo Ball era begins in earnest tonight vs. the Clippers, the Rookie of the Year candidate one of six new faces on the roster. Former Nets center Brook Lopez, former Pistons shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and rookies Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma the top four after Ball. 

What can bettors expect from the new guys? Lopez will generate the majority of points. The silky big man, who can score inside and out, averaged 20.5 points per game with the Nets last season, second-most among centers. Hart is questionable for the opener with Achilles bursitis, but isn’t expected to play a significant role early on in the season. Caldwell-Pope, meanwhile, is suspended the first two games. Jordan Clarkson will likely fill the void at shooting guard. Kuzma should see some playing time after leading the team in points during the preseason.

How the Clippers will cope without Chris Paul is anyone’s guess. The star point guard moved over to the Rockets after running the Clips the last six seasons. Patrick Beverley, who came the other way in the trade deal, will fill Paul’s shoes. Beverley, who has been hobbled by a sore knee in the preseason, will give Ball a tough first test. “Mr. 94 Feet” is a 2017 First Team All-Defensive selection and one of the best backcourt defenders in the league.

Head coach Doc Rivers still has the powerhouse frontcourt duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan at his disposal. Jordan, who has led the NBA in field-goal percentage the last five seasons, put up 12.7 points and pulled down 13.8 rebounds per game in 2016. Griffin’s stat line read like this: 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game in 61 played.  Two new faces that will make an impact are former Lakers and Sixth Man of the Year candidate Lou Williams and Euro star Milos Teodosic.

This matchup has a history of going ‘under’ the total in recent years. Since Rivers took over in 2013, it is 10-4-2 overall, playing 4.8 points below a 212.2 average total. The Clippers are responsible for much of the underachievement, failing to hit their team total in 11 of the 16 games. One has to wonder how smooth the offense runs early on as it adjusts without Paul. The unit averaged just 105.0 during the exhibition period. Lean that way here.

The Lakers plus the points is another solid pick. This game hinges on the Lopez-Jordan matchup down low. Lopez got the better of Jordan in their last meeting, sinking 27 points in a Nets 127-122 double-overtime win over the Clips in November 2016. The recipe for success was to allow Lopez to pull Jordan away from the rim with his outside shooting prowess. Expect Lakers coach Luke Walton to adopt a similar tactic tonight. For what it’s worth, Lopez is 7-6 SU and 10-3 ATS head-to-head vs. Jordan, going off an underdog in all but one contest.

Since Rivers took over, the Clippers are 14-2 SU and 8-8 ATS in the battle for the City of Angels. Rivers’ squad has tipped off favorites in each, and by double digits in all but two. The Lakers won each of those outright: 116-103 as 8.5-point dogs in October 2013 and 111-102 as 6-point pups in December of last year. Believe in the hype. The Ball era tips off with a bang while the Clippers struggle to adjust without Paul. Take the points, and spread a little on the money line with the Lakers. 

Free NBA Pick: Lakers +5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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