A changing of the guard in the NBA's Pacific Division involves more than just the front-running Los Angeles Clippers. The Golden State Warriors have quietly moved up to fourth in the Western Conference, and can cut into LA's 3-game division lead Saturday night when they make the short trek to Staples Center.
There's potential for a physical game as the two left-coast rivals meet for the second time in four days, and a quick check of the NBA odds reveals the Clippers are 6 point favorites. Overnight totals have dropped a point to 201.5.
Bettors will be sorting through several trends and angles on this matchup in search of the winning play, starting with the recent schedules. Golden State has had a couple of days off since Wednesday's victory, the fourth straight for the Warriors. The Clippers, meanwhile, are playing the second half of a back-to-back after popping the Lakers on Friday in another installment of Battle: Los Angeles.
The Clippers are a pedestrian 4-3 straight up this season in the second part of consecutive games, and just 2-5 against the spread in those situations. Can the revenge factor play into Vinny Del Negro's club improving both of those records?
Warriors Have Clippers' Number So Far
Wednesday's setback in Oakland is just part of the revenge angle the Clippers have going into Saturday's collision. That loss, which was LA's second straight following a franchise-best 17-game win streak, was the second time Golden State beat the Clips this season, each time sending Warriors backers to the window for their cash.
The teams split four decisions last season, and the Clippers only have this game and another meeting in Oakland a little less than two weeks from now to earn a split this campaign. Golden State has now won three of the last four matchups, covering eight of the last 1
That 115-94 win on Wednesday included a rather testy moment early in the third quarter when Festus Ezeli was charged with a flagrant 1 against Los Angeles star Blake Griffin. Golden State was up by 19 at the time, and Griffin stayed in the game though he was held to just 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting.
Los Angeles was really never in the game after seeing the record win streak snapped the night before in Denver. And while Griffin never was able to establish himself inside, it was outside shooting by the Warriors that decided the outcome early. Stephen Curry scored a game-high 31 and combined with Klay Thompson to sink 11-of-17 from beyond the arc. Perimeter defense has been an issue for the Clippers all season with opponents sinking over 36% of their long-range tries, 19th in the NBA.
Are Over Trends Too Strong To Ignore?
Curry said after the game that he hadn't "been that locked-in in quite a while," so we probably shouldn't expect such a strong performance again on Saturday. Still, OVER trends are difficult to overlook for this matchup.
Golden State (19-13 O/U) is second behind only Dallas at cashing OVER tickets this season while the Clippers check in at ninth (18-15 O/U). Three of LA's last four games at Staples Center have jumped the total, and both contests between the two squads this season have finished above the number, bringing the OVER to 6-2 in the last eight series meetings.
With two rookies in the current starting lineup (Ezeli and Harrison Barnes), plus a third coming off the bench (Draymond Green), perhaps the Warriors are too young to know they're not supposed to be playing this well. It's tempting to play them as road dogs, but instead my pick will be on the scoreboard ending above the total.
My pick: Over 201.5 at The Greek
Season: 3-2 ($0.80)