Staples Center should be a madhouse on Tuesday evening, and with the news that Kobe Bryant will not play, the NBA Odds have the spread in favor of the Clippers at -8, with a total of 198. Before placing our sports picks, let’s take a look at some of the storylines and statistics heading into the start of the season.
Kobe down, Clippers up
With Bryant down for an undisclosed period of time, the Los Angeles Lakers are left pretty bare when it comes to offense. Pau Gasol is going to have to step up in the short term to fill the void, and when looking back on his history against the Clippers, I expect a big game for him tonight, probably giving Blake Griffin’s defense all that it can handle.
The problem for the Lakers this season will be on defense. Dwight Howard is gone, as is his rim protecting, and the Lakers are going with a combination of the oft-injured Chris Kaman, and Jordan Hill to platoon the center position. While Hill has some defensive upside, both of these guys are going to get beat a lot on defense, and I think that may be where we need to look for value this season with LA.
I doubt the spread has much value in the NBA Odds for this game, but the total at 198 seemingly has some value. The Lakers’ defense should be non-existent this season, much like it was last year, but I expect their offense to be very good still under head coach, Mike D’Antoni, even without Bryant here.
On the flip side, the Clippers’ offense should be improved as well. Even with the defensive style of Doc Rivers, I think the Clippers will be one of the better offensive units this season. Last year they were 9th in the NBA in scoring and 4th overall in total defense, and while I expect both of those numbers to get better this season, early on I think offense will rule for the LAC.
Tonight while I see the spread being a wash, the over looks like the play. 198 seems like not enough for these two teams, especially with their history. In four games last season, these two never had a total below 200 points, and the average total for these two last season in those four games was just under 210 points.
I am definitely buying into the theory that Rivers is going to make the Clippers an even better defensive team, however I think that will take some more time during the season to install. However in the beginning of the season, as long as there isn’t a lot of offseason rust left to shake off, I think the over could have a lot of value here.
This preseason, both of these teams have been routinely either scoring, or giving up 100 points. For the Lakers, six of their eight games had either one or both teams scoring at least 100 points, and for the Clippers, the same stat holds for five of their eight exhibition games.
Make sure you check back tomorrow for our official NBA Picks on all of the games tipping off the NBA season on Tuesday and beyond.
Check out my NBA Picks: Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat for another opening day preview.