After getting crushed for our NBA picks in their season-opener at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Clippers travel all the way to Staples Center for their home-opener against the upstart Golden State Warriors.
Even a blind dog finds a bone now and then. What else are we supposed to take away from Tuesday night’s game at Staples Center? The Los Angeles Clippers, who are actually getting some buzz as a title contender at 8-1 on the NBA futures market, got crushed 116-103 by the Los Angeles Lakers. Losing to the Lakers is old hat, but the Clippers were favored by 9.5 points against this watered-down version of their hallway rivals. And yes, I picked them.
Back to the old drawing board. The Clippers are back in action Thursday night (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT), and they’re laying seven points to the Golden State Warriors, who just got finished creaming said Lakers 125-94 as 12-point home faves. I believe that means by the Transitive Theory of Handicapping that Golden State will win by 44 points on Thursday. Great, print it, roll credits.
Back-to-Back is a Bad-Ass Fact
Well, maybe not. We’ve had a lot of back-to-back games to start the season, and we’ve already witnessed the Lakers and the Heat get creamed playing on zero days of rest. True, but the Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic both covered on Wednesday after playing each other on Tuesday. Being young and nimble helps. The Warriors? Young, but not so nimble.
Let’s start with SF Harrison Barnes. Last year’s first-round draft pick is expected to step in as Golden State’ sixth man after starting all 81 games as a rookie. But not until Barnes has recovered from the inflammation he suffered in his left foot about three weeks ago. Center Andrew Bogut played just 32 games last year and 18 minutes on Wednesday, as Golden State was able to go deep into its bench with the big lead on the Lakers. With C Festus Ezeli (knee) out until at least the holidays, managing the oft-injured Bogut’s minutes becomes even more of an issue for a team looking to make a deep playoff run.
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On a Great Big Clipper Ship
Speaking of back-to-backs, the Lakers were without Steve Nash on Wednesday, although that probably didn’t matter much against Golden State – Nash scored just three points on the Clippers in 21 minutes. But the Lakers bench cooled off considerably after torching the Clips for 76 points on Tuesday. Regression to the mean? Or do the Clippers have a fundamental flaw that was exposed on national television?
At the very least, we might have to start worrying about the Clippers bench. Center Byron Mullens was a DNP against the Lakers, as was PF Antawn Jamison, with head coach Doc Rivers choosing to go eight deep on Tuesday. We also need to pay close attention to SG J.J. Redick (minus-19 against the Lakers) and SF Matt Barnes (minus-15) as they play their way into shape after missing most of the preseason.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. The Clippers have a new coach and new players and a whole lot of expectations on their shoulders. But we’re not exactly living in a patient world these days. I think the NBA betting marketplace will overreact to the Clippers loss; although our early consensus reports are inconclusive as we go to press, we’re already seeing the spread move to six points at some online sportsbooks following Golden State’s big win on Wednesday. Less chalk; more rock.
NBA Pick: Take the Clippers –6 (–104) at Marathon