Pacers Should Handle Business vs. Worn-Down Clippers

pacers oladipo

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, March 22, 2018 5:31 PM GMT

Thursday, Mar. 22, 2018 5:31 PM GMT

The Los Angeles Clippers play their sixth game in eight nights Friday when they visit the Indiana Pacers in somehow the first meeting of the season between the teams.

LA Clippers (38-33, 38-32-1 ATS) at Indiana (41-31, 40-32 ATS)Free NBA Pick: PacersBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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The NBA offers 10 games opposite the final night of the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 on Friday, with things getting started on the pro side at 7 p.m. ET with the Clippers making their only visit of the season to Indianapolis.

I’m not sure what the record is for the latest in a season two teams have met for the first time – non-lockout seasons excluded when some teams played just once – but Clippers-Pacers must be on the short list. I mean, there are less than three weeks remaining on the schedule and this is the first. Indiana will visit the Clippers on April 1 as part of a four-game trip through the Western Conference.

Not that last year’s meetings mean too much since both the Clippers and Pacers have traded away their superstars since, but Indiana swept by winning 91-70 at home and 111-102 at Staples Center. It was the Pacers’ first sweep of the season series since 2013-14. Blake Griffin averaged 20.0 points and 12.5 rebounds in the two, while Paul George played in just the game in L.A. and had 16 points.

The Clippers are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings.

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📊 15p/2r/4a/1s | The Clippers are now 14-6 when @MilosTeodosic4 scores 10 or more points.

📸 https://t.co/6ZBPU6XzTH
🎥 https://t.co/Bro71y2BZ3#ItTakesEverything pic.twitter.com/LZHOf0XtLP

— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) March 22, 2018
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Who Needs Overpriced Superstars?

These teams are largely in the same boat in that they moved on from their franchise players via trade fairly recently – and an argument could be made that both are better off long term. Neither the Clippers nor Pacers were winning a title with Griffin or George.

Of course, the Pacers shipped George to Oklahoma City before the season for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Oladipo might be the NBA’s most improved player and was an All-Star, and Indiana is going to make the playoffs – perhaps as high as the No. 3 seed. Oladipo is looking to become the first Pacers player since Danny Granger (24.1) in 2009-10 to average 24 or more points per game. In the six games Oladipo has missed, Indiana is 0-6. George, meanwhile, made it clear he was going to walk as a free agent this summer while still a Pacer.

While the George trade was expected, if perhaps not to OKC, the Griffin trade to Detroit in late January came out of nowhere. L.A. did well in getting Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, a 2018 first-round pick and mega-salary relief from Griffin’s outlandish five-year, $173 million extension. Bradley is done for the season, but Harris is playing well and is a building block going forward along with that Detroit pick (assuming outside the top four), L.A’s own first-rounder plus plenty of salary-cap space.

Why pay some borderline superstar $30 million a season plus a luxury-tax bill if you have no realistic shot at title contention? Perhaps more GMs should do what the Clippers and Pacers did. (By the way, how much better would the Orlando Magic be if they hadn’t essentially given up on both Harris and Oladipo?)

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Victor Oladipo: “We’ve gotta take care of games... It’s not going to be easy. Gotta get ready to move forward and take care of home court this weekend.” pic.twitter.com/W0l2R3Y1pY

— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) March 22, 2018
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Indiana was supposed to be off since Monday … except its Feb. 7 game in New Orleans was postponed because of wet court conditions. So, the Pacers went to the Big Easy on Wednesday night for the makeup game and lost for the third time in four, 96-92. Indiana shot just 36.6 percent, nearly 11 percent worse than its season average. Sabonis missed his fourth straight with an ankle injury, but there’s a solid chance he could return Friday. If the Pacers want home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, they better hold serve at home (24-13) because after this six of the final nine are on the road (17-18).

The Clippers were in the playoff hunt just over a week ago but those hopes are diminishing. L.A. did end a four-game skid on Wednesday with a 127-120 upset in Milwaukee. The Clips caught a huge break when Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was lost to a sprained ankle in the first half. Lou Williams continued his amazing season with 19 points. He is on pace to become the first player in NBA history to average 20+ points for the first time in his 13th season or later. The 31-year-old is averaging 22.8 ppg.

This is L.A.’s sixth game in eight nights, so I’m thinking the tank will be near empty. As it is, the Clippers are 1-5 ATS in their past six after a win. Indiana has covered five of its previous seven after a loss. Take the Pacers for a Friday NBA pick.

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