NBA Picks: Take Wizards To Win vs. Blake Griffin & The Clippers

Jason Lake

Sunday, April 3, 2016 10:38 AM GMT

Blake Griffin is very likely to start Sunday for the Los Angeles Clippers. The NBA basketball odds are already moving away from L.A.'s opponents, the Washington Wizards.

Jason's 2015-16 record as of April 1: 30-35-1 ATS, 6-3-1 Total

We haven't heard a lot from the Los Angeles Clippers these days. Out of sight, out of mind. People have been paying attention to other things in the Western Conference, especially with Blake Griffin sitting out the past three months. But Griffin will return this Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET) when the Clippers host the Washington Wizards. Is he 100 percent? Nope: Griffin still has a tear in his left quad. He'll probably be in the starting lineup, but his minutes will no doubt be capped.

The betting public doesn't appear too concerned. Los Angeles opened as a 6-point home fave on our NBA odds board, then moved to -6.5 and as high as -7 by press time. Has the Griffin Force already drained whatever betting value there might be on the Clippers? Or does Griffin's return make L.A. the right choice for this matchup?

 

You're Not Ready
Actually, before we start looking at the data, we'd better clarify what's been going on with that betting line. Not every location opened Los Angeles (47-28 SU, 36-36-3 ATS) at -6; the earliest books on the board followed the lead of the consensus line in Vegas, which had the Clippers at -7.5 for a couple of hours on Saturday before flipping to -6. Hmmmm... you don't suppose...

Yup, that consensus line changed shortly after Clippers head coach Doc Rivers announced Griffin would be starting Sunday. Not only is Griffin (23.1 PER, +3.8 BPM) still not fully healed, there was plenty of sharp analysis done a while back that suggested the team was actually more efficient with Griffin on the sidelines. We're not convinced here at the ranch, but at the very least, we should expect a subpar performance from Griffin while he gets his sea legs back.

 

Sunday Shopping
With that in mind, let's see what the projectionists have to say about Sunday's matchup:

FiveThirtyEight (CARM-Elo): Los Angeles –7.5
Basketball-Reference (SRS): Los Angeles –8.43

These kayfabe lines don't take Griffin's return into account, so we're once again left to muse about Griffin's impact on Sunday's game. But maybe we shouldn't bother reading too deeply into this. The Clippers are pretty much locked into the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, and they've been handing out maintenance days like they're candy. Lord knows who they'll play on Sunday. Is Hedo Turkoglu still around?

Washington (37-39 SU, 38-38 ATS), on the other hand, is 2.5 games back of the final playoff spot in the East with six games remaining. The roster is fairly healthy, although consistency has been a big problem all year long; the Wiz are 2-4 SU and ATS in their last six. But we'll roll the dice here at the home office and put Washington in our NBA picks, on the premise that Griffin and the Clippers will be using Sunday's game as a dress rehearsal for the postseason.

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Free NBA Pick: Washington +6.5 (-104)
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle