Doug’s NBA Picks: 9-5-1
Sunday, 9:05 p.m.
Free NBA Pick: Spurs
Best Line Offered: Bookmaker
With the chance to play six of seven times at the Staples Center, including the last four in a row, the Los Angeles Clippers were in a position to move up, not down in the Western Conference standings. Instead, coach Doc Rivers has lost five in a row and is 0-5 ATS as they head out of Los Angeles. To say they need a victory is an understatement because after spending one day in San Antonio, it will be off to Dallas, Miami, and Chicago before heading back home. That is building up frequent flyer miles swiftly.
This is a doughnut hole game for San Antonio having just played two away games and after this home conflict, the Spurs are back out on the road for two more at Philadelphia and at New Orleans. However, neither situation will face scheduling challenges, with two days between each contest.
With the Clippers 11-10 and 10-11 ATS on the road the Spurs 18-6 and 17-7 ATS at home, most power ratings will have San Antonio as a 5 or 5.5-point favorite for NBA odds, barring an injury or a starting player given a day off.
Rivers club is middle of the road in defensive shooting percentage allowed on two and three-point shot attempts. But because they play at a faster pace, Los Angeles is in the mid-20’s in the league in points permitted and points per 100 possessions (defensive efficiency).
When the Clippers are not scoring at their typical rate and defending with less veracity, they are vulnerable. Also, during this five-game downturn, they have not protected or coveted the orange. The Clips are a disastrous -21 in turnover margin during this period and a -22 in rebound margin.
“We’ll come in and watch some film; correct some mistakes,” Clippers guard Lou Williams said when asked about the recent issues. “We had some slippage. It happens in the course of the season.”
In order to beat the Spurs in their building, both these aspects need to completely flip.
After laboring to start the season, San Antonio has turned it around and is 16-6 (17-5 ATS) since Dec. 7th. The early part of the year was used for a number of players to get used to each other.
Since the first week of December, that has started to click. DeMar DeRozan is back playing at an all-star level, leading San Antonio is scoring, assists and steals. LaMarcus Aldridge has been reenergized and the Spurs are back to feeding the hot hand as opposed to players having to meet their shot quotas to be happy. Aldridge has put up big numbers recently and has gotten the ball where he likes it and produced.
Though Rudy Gay is not considered a top line player anymore, he is important as a starter for Gregg Popovich. The Spurs offense is more fluid and is 22-12 when he starts, and 5-8 when Gay is injured or coming off the bench.
For NBA picks, given San Antonio’s home record at 17-7 ATS and the fact they are 17-5-1 ATS recently against opposing teams with a winning record, they get the call in this spot. And what seals the deal besides the Clippers slumping, they are also 0-7 ATS after a home loss by double digits.