Even though the Clippers will host the Warriors (assuming the Clippers stay locked in at 3 with a win tonight) at home to start the playoffs, a win here would secure that destiny. A big win for LA would not only ensure they don’t fall below 3rd, it would allow them to leave Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and probably a few more guys home in LA tonight after the game, instead of sending them on the long flight to Portland.
That means LA will be extra motivated to put the Nuggets away early, and without the service of Lawson to help counteract this onslaught, I fear the Nuggets may roll over early in this one without their floor general. If you read my NBA Picks of the day, you’ll know that I like the Clippers on the spread tonight, however I also really think the over could be in play here as well.
If there is a blowout for this game, it will mean the Clippers’ offense did its job and likely put up over 115 points. If they do indeed reach and/or exceed 115 tonight, I see the total going over. The Nuggets have been scoring well recently, but more importantly, their defense has been pretty bad through their last ten games.
In their last ten games, the Clippers have been scoring machines. Their entire roster is healthy now outside of Danny Granger, and they have been pouring on the points. While they will still score plenty, I think their defense might overlook the Nuggets without Lawson. LA is not trying to get anyone hurt tonight in a game that could be meaningless depending on other teams tomorrow, and through their last ten, the Clippers have given up over 103 points per game. In a game that might be out of reach in the 2nd half, I think the over has to be the play.
The Nuggets have scored an average of over 107 points per game in their last 10 games, and that is a little surprising considering they have done it without Lawson for a chunk of those ten games. However what’s not surprising is that during that same stretch, the Nuggets have given up close to 110 points per game. Without Lawson, not only do their quality possessions on offense go down, but he is their best defender as well. Without him, Chris Paul will go nuts for the time he is in the game, and Darren Collison will take over and probably go nuts too after that.
The Clippers have cashed the over in six of their last eight games, and if it wasn’t for a couple of tough defensive opponents over their last six to eight games, the Nuggets would have been killing the over recently as well. Look for tonight’s game to be a little more relaxed by both teams, and for the over to have the NBA Odds value.
My Pick: OVER 219 ½