Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 26 inclusive:
This is what happens when you become the top dog. The Los Angeles Clippers were being touted as possibly the best team in the NBA after they rattled off that recent 11-game winning streak. Since then? 2-2 SU and 0-4 ATS, capped off by Wednesday’s 98-96 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans (+7.5 ATS). Watch out: Those smoothies are flavored with L.A.’s tears.
It’s highly unlikely the Clippers (50-22 SU, 39-32-1 ATS) are going to give up first place in the Pacific Division, but they can still fall to the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference if they don’t get this boat turned around. There aren’t any more gimmies on this five-game road trip, either. The Dallas Mavericks (43-29 SU, 40-32 ATS) are next on the list; they’ve been a bit tricky to handicap lately, going into overtime in three of their last four games at 2-2 SU and ATS. Thursday’s NBA odds board has Los Angeles laying a single point with a total of 212.
Can’t Teach Height
It’s hard to call any game that Anthony Davis is involved in a gimme, but the Clippers had a relatively easy “W” on their hands Wednesday night, and they couldn’t get the job done. Anthony Morrow subbed in for the injured Eric Gordon and had a fantastic game, scoring 27 points on 9-of-17 shooting. Davis had a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds, ho hum. But so did back-up center Alexis Ajinca (14 points, 11 rebounds). And if the Clippers still have a weakness, it’s size off the bench.
Yes, the Clippers have Glen Davis (8.5 PER), although he hasn’t played all that well since securing his buy-out from the Orlando Magic. But after Davis, what do they have? Ryan Holllins (11.5 PER), who posted another DNP-CD on Wednesday and has played a grand total of 20 minutes in March. Again, we hope you’re not including Hedo Turkoglu (9.6 PER) as a big just because he’s 6-foot-10.
One of the things that makes betting on the NBA so profitable is that hardly anyone at the shallow end of the pool pays attention to these things. The Clippers have a truly amazing starting rotation with plenty of beef in Blake Griffin (23.9 PER) and DeAndre Jordan (17.9 PER). But that’s where the beef ends and the filler begins. This could be a real issue in the playoffs against a Western team with ample frontcourt depth.
Bigger in Texas
Oh, look, here’s one of them now. The Mavericks have so many capable forwards, they don’t know what to do with them. There just aren’t enough minutes to go around for all of Samuel Dalembert (16.3 PER), Brandan Wright (23.6 PER) and DeJuan Blair (17.0 PER). Don’t forget about Bernard James (8.5 PER), either. It’s the classic “20 fouls to give” situation, and Jordan (45.4 percent from the free throw line) is just waiting for the good ol’ Hack-a-Shaq treatment.
It wouldn’t be the first time. Dallas is 1-3 SU and 3-1 ATS against the Clippers in their last four meetings; Jordan went a combined 8-for-19 from the line in those games. And we just saw the Mavericks outlast the Oklahoma City Thunder (–2.5 away) 128-119 in overtime, taking advantage of the absence of Kendrick Perkins to survive another 43-point outburst from Kevin Durant. It’s not too difficult to imagine a similar scenario playing out on Thursday night (8:30 p.m. ET) at the ADD. May the sphere be with you.
NBA Pick: Take the Mavericks +1.5 at Heritage