Los Angeles Clippers still don’t have Griffin back, and they’ve picked up 2 more injuries ahead of Wednesday’s matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers. How will the NBA odds shake out for this one?
Jason’s record as of Mar. 2: 40-37-4 ATS, 3-6 Totals
You have to hand it to the Los Angeles Clippers. They could have easily gone into a funk after losing Blake Griffin to elbow surgery, but instead, they’ve more than held their own at 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS. Things should only improve once Griffin returns to action, which could be as soon as this Sunday.
Unfortunately for the Clippers, they lost a couple more players in Monday’s 110-105 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who took advantage and cashed in as 6.5-point home dogs. Will Jamal Crawford (calf) and Matt Barnes (hamstring) be in the lineup when Los Angeles hosts the Portland Trail Blazers this Wednesday night (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)? The NBA odds are on hold until we know more.
The Day-to-Day Day Today
As we go to press, we don’t have a lot of information one way or the other about the status of Crawford and Barnes. We do know that Crawford (17.5 PER) wasn’t hurt too seriously when he suffered a calf contusion in Minnesota and sat out the second half. Barnes (11.1 PER) missed the entire game after tweaking his right hamstring in Sunday’s 96-86 victory against the Chicago Bulls (+2 at home), so he might be less likely to play Wednesday. Both are officially listed as day-to-day.
This is where we go into our usual spiel about L.A.’s lack of depth, and the dubious play of Austin Rivers (9.7 PER), who had one of his stronger performances against Minnesota to help cover for Crawford’s absence. But there’s a twist: Jordan Hamilton was signed to a 10-day contract last week, and he started at shooting guard for the Clippers (40-21 SU, 26-35 ATS) on Monday, leading his team at plus-14.
Hamilton (13.8 PER lifetime) has teased us before. Just three years ago, the former Texas Longhorn was one of the more promising players on the Denver Nuggets bench, posting a 16.9 PER in limited action. But after Denver’s front-office purge, Hamilton was traded to the Houston Rockets for Aaron Brooks. He got a tryout with the Toronto Raptors and former GM Masai Ujiri this summer, and looked good, but there was no room at the inn. The Utah Jazz also let Hamilton go after kicking the tires.
We don’t want to make too much fuss over Hamilton joining the Clippers, but quite frankly, he’s better than any of their bench players right now. He’ll presumably have to start again if Barnes isn’t healthy enough to play Wednesday; if you’re a Clips fan, you’re hoping they at least sign Hamilton to another 10-day. There’s a chance that JaVale McGee (14.4 PER) could eventually land here as well after the Philadelphia 76ers cut him loose Sunday night.
Afflalo in the Sun
Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers (39-19 SU, 29-28-1 ATS) continue to bleed away the profits they made in the early season, much like they did last year. Portland is 3-2 SU and 2-3 ATS since the All-Star break; Aaron Afflalo (10.3 PER in 106 minutes) hasn’t helped matters much, although he’s 6-of-12 from behind the arc in four games for his new employers. As a non-defender, Afflalo (minus-1.5 BPM) is of questionable value on Portland’s bench playing behind another offensive-minded guard in Wesley Matthews (16.3 PER).
And to think the Blazers hollowed out their bench even further to acquire Afflalo at the trade deadline. They won’t miss Will Barton (8.3 PER) or Victor Claver (9.2 PER), but at least big man Thomas Robinson (11.0 PER) had a plus-1.8 DBPM and was pulling down 12.2 rebounds every 36 minutes. Sure, the starting five still looks good, and Robin Lopez (15.7 PER, plus-2.3 DBPM) might prevent DeAndre Jordan (21.2 PER) from putting up another 20-20 game. But we’re not convinced. Let’s roll with the OVER for our NBA pick if Barnes (plus-0.8 DBPM) doesn’t suit up; it’s 3-1 in Portland’s four games with Afflalo on board.
Free NBA Pick: Take the OVER (if Barnes doesn’t play)