Monday includes 6 games on the NBA schedule, though no contest has more playoff implications than the Los Angeles Derby between the Lakers and Clippers. After an easy win over the hapless Knicks on Sunday, the Clippers moved into the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference. LAC is sitting at 36-29 on the season.
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Their local rivals, however, are in turmoil. The Lakers have lost 2 straight, and they’re just 3-7 over the course of their last 10 games. LeBron James’ team was riding high before he suffered a groin injury on Christmas Day, but it’s been almost all downhill since. The Lakers are just 30-33, which means they’re 4.5 games back of the San Antonio Spurs for the last playoff spot, and they’re 5 games adrift of the Clips.
The following odds are courtesy of our live odds feed:
|2019 ATS Home||17-13-0||12-18-1|
|2019 ATS Away||20-15-0||14-18-0|
|2019 O/U Home||19-11-0||9-21-1|
|2019 O/U Away||14-20-1||16-16-0|
The Lakers, of course, were very involved in the trade discussions for disgruntled Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis. LeBron James and Davis were essentially wooing each other openly prior to the trade deadline, but the Pelicans had no desire to send Davis to Los Angeles. Therefore, no trade was commenced. As a result, the Lakers’ internal chemistry seems to have been shattered.
The roster is largely young around James, so their late-season struggles aren’t all that surprising. It’s just an inexperienced group, and most of these guys have never dealt with the pressure of championship expectations.
You could tell based on the team’s body language in a disturbing loss to the lowly Suns on Saturday night that something just isn’t clicking. James has been putting up decent numbers, but his commitment on the defensive end of the floor has clearly been lacking. You don’t need to dig far in order to find clips on social media of James dogging it defensively.
The Lakers have just 19 games to make up their current deficit. It’s not absurd to say that they may have missed their playoff shot. If the Lakers do miss the cut, it will be the first time since LeBron’s second season in the league (2004-05) that he will have missed out on postseason play.
The Clippers have enjoyed a fine season overall, but many thought LAC was mailing it in when they traded star player Tobias Harris to the 76ers at the trade deadline. To many, the trade was a sign that the Clippers were punting on the playoffs with an eye on the draft lottery. However, that hasn’t been the case.
The Clippers have gone a respectable 6-4 over their last 10 games to keep pace in the playoff chase. Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams have been the driving forces for L.A. offensively, while role players like JaMychal Green, Landry Shamet, Montrezl Harrell and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have played big roles, as well.
This will be the third of 4 head-to-head meetings during the regular season between the rivals. The Clippers won the first matchup, while the Lakers earned a win by the score of 123-120 when they last met in February.
Both teams rank in the top 10 in the league in pace. The Lakers are fourth, while the Clippers are ninth. That should lead to quite the high-scoring affair, as evidenced by the Vegas total of 235 points here. The 2 teams combined to score 225 points in their first meeting and 243 the last time they met, which was an overtime affair.
Betting the over has been popular when it comes to Laker games, but they have been a surprisingly disappointing betting option in that regard. The Lakers are just 25-37-1 in terms of the over/under so far this season. They are also just 12-18-1 against the spread as the home team, which they will be tonight.
For all that’s gone wrong with the Lakers to this point, I do understand why they’re betting favorites tonight. They just match up on paper with the Clippers better than they do with other teams. The Clippers have a notable weakness in the frontcourt, which is the Lakers’ primary area of strength. The Clippers don’t really have the length to effectively defend all 3 of LeBron, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma, so it’s a matchup problem, especially now that Tobias Harris is gone.
I do think the Lakers get back on track here. I wouldn’t be surprised if the line came down as the day went on considering the Lakers’ recent troubles. I would guess plenty would be betting the Clippers as underdogs with the way both teams have played lately. I just have a feeling this is where the Lakers get back on track. I doubt it’s ultimately enough to propel them into the Western Conference playoff picture but give me the Lakers to pick up a win over the Clips this evening.
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