Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through Apr. 12: 25-28-1 ATS, 0-4 ML (minus-9.35 units), 34-21 Totals
L.A. Clippers (48-34 SU, 45-36-1 ATS) at Golden State (57-25 SU, 35-46-1 ATS)
Free NBA Pick: Clippers
Recommended Sportsbook: Bovada
So you want to bet on the first-round Western Conference playoff series between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers? Sounds good to us. It’s going to be a fun series, and a fun-sized bet on the Clippers would be entirely appropriate – for entertainment purposes. They could actually pull off the upset, but L.A. are priced at +3000 on the NBA odds board at Bovada, and that might not be a big enough payout to make it a sharp investment.
Problem is, we can’t recommend the other side, either. The Warriors are priced at –20000, which means you have to bet $200 to win a buck. Is that a smart NBA pick? Well, the computer projections at FiveThirtyEight only tell us that Golden State have a greater than 99-percent chance of going on to the next round. If they mean greater than 99.5%, then maybe it’s a viable pick at these odds, but where’s the profit margin? Again, feel free to make a fun bet on the Warriors if you prefer, and again, make it a small bet, since it’s not really about the money anyway.
The End Is Nigh
You have to give the Clippers their due respect. This franchise has come light-years since Donald Sterling was their owner – and made another leap before the 2017-18 campaign when head coach Doc Rivers gave up full control over basketball operations. The Clippers won five more games this year than their projections at Basketball Reference; only the Dallas Mavericks (45-34-3 ATS) had a more profitable year in the West.
On the flip side, only the Phoenix Suns (36-46 ATS) bled more red ink than the Warriors – even though Golden State outperformed their projections by one win. You’re going to have to pay a premium if you want to bet on the champs. This is a damn fine team, though. DeMarcus Cousins (plus-3.6 BPM) gave them the boost they wanted at center, and Kevon Looney (plus-3.7 BPM) stepped up big-time in his third full year as a pro.
Then again, this is also a team at the tail end of its dynastic cycle. Stephen Curry (plus-6.3 BPM) and especially Kevin Durant (plus-4.3 BPM) failed to perform at the MVP-levels we’re used to seeing from them. Draymond Green (plus-2.0 BPM) and Klay Thompson (minus-0.8 BPM) also had down years. This is the beginning of the end for Golden State, and if the end happens to come early at the hands of the Clippers, hey, we’ll get a lovely payout at 30-to-1. That’s entertainment.