Wizards at Pelicans
New Orleans opened at -4 with a total of 200.5 on NBA odds for this one against Washington. The Pelicans seem to have a pretty talented group when healthy -- they just can't stay that way. Franchise player Anthony Davis has missed a handful of game with injuries, although he's back, and now one of the league's top 3-point shooters, forward Ryan Anderson is out indefinitely after he suffered a herniated disc in last Friday's game against Boston. It actually could have been much worse as Anderson collided with the Celtics' Gerald Wallace and lay motionless on the court for several minutes before being carted off on a stretcher.
This obviously hurts New Orleans in the short term as Anderson leads the team in scoring at 19.8 ppg and is third in rebounding at 6.5. He's fourth in the league in 3-pointers made per game and second in attempts. In today's NBA, you need good 3-point shooting to win. It also could hurt long term as there had been rumors that Anderson could be traded for a big man (Houston's Omer Asik?) so the skinny Davis doesn't have take as much physical punishment in the paint.
This will be the second of a back-to-back for both clubs with Washington in Charlotte on Tuesday and the Pelicans in Miami. The Wizards are in a funk right now because shooting guard Bradley Beal has struggled in somewhat limited minutes since returning from a knee injury.
New Orleans has had some impressive home wins of late against Portland, Denver and Memphis. Its last loss at home was understandable: Dec. 6 against Oklahoma City. The team should be energized by a return home after largely playing on the road since mid-December. In addition, the Wizards are 0-4 ATS on NBA odds in their past four against the Western Conference and the Pelicans are 6-1 ATS in their past seven against teams with a losing record.
NBA Pick: Pelicans -4.
Celtics at Clippers
Clippers coach Doc Rivers hosts his former Celtics team for the only time this season on Wednesday as Los Angeles, which is -9 on NBA odds, tries to adjust to life without All-Star point guard Chris Paul. He is expected to miss about six weeks with a separated shoulder, a blow to the Clippers' NBA futures odds at sportsbooks of winning the Pacific Division -- especially with how well Golden State is playing -- and home-court advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs.
Paul was hurt in Friday's win over Dallas. Somewhat predictably, the "hungover" Clippers then were destroyed the next night in San Antonio before beating visiting Orlando by 20 on Monday. Darren Collison filled in well for Paul when the two were with New Orleans a few seasons ago and Paul was hurt, and Collison was strong against Orlando with 13 points and eight assists.
However, Collison is a downgrade from Eric Bledsoe, Paul's backup last year. The Clippers were 10-10 without an injured Paul and averaged 95 points per game in the previous two seasons. They were 109-55 and averaged 101 points with him in the lineup. L.A. also remains without injured shooting guard J.J. Redick. Thus expect lower totals going forward for the Clips at sportsbooks.
The good news is the Clippers will likely get a winded Boston team as it had to play in the altitude of Denver on Tuesday night. When Rivers had his homecoming in Boston on Dec. 11, the Clippers beat the Celtics 96-88 behind 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds from Paul. Boston was +5 with a total of 195 on NBA odds in that one.
Rivers turned Boston into a good defensive team and new coach Brad Stevens has the C's No. 6 in points allowed. The Clippers have improved to No. 12 in scoring defense thanks in large part to Rivers. They figure to struggle without their floor general. Boston's past five in the second of a back-to-back have gone under at sportsbooks.
NBA pick: Under 197