The Lakers and Clippers will be without their best players on Thursday’s key Western Conference battle. Which LA team should we back with our NBA picks? Here’s a complete preview, including betting odds and predictions.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Thursday, February 3, 2022 – 10:00 PM EST at Crypto.com Arena
The Clippers opened at -3.5 at BetMGM and they’re at -3 at SBK. FiveThirtyEight projects the Clippers to win the game by 5.5 points. This 2.5-point gap leaves plenty of potential profit margin. FanDuel set the total at 218 in their NBA odds board and USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin projects these two teams to combine for 227.72 points. Should we hammer the Over or do the Clippers belong in our NBA picks?
To Tank or Not to Tank…
Should the Clippers (26-27 SU and ATS) tank the rest of the season? At press time they’re in eighth place in the Western Conference standings, earning a spot in the play-in tournament but Paul George (elbow) will miss at least another couple of weeks and Kawhi Leonard (knee) may not return in time for the playoffs.
The Lakers (25-27 SU, 22-30 ATS) have been limited by injuries to Anthony Davis and LeBron James and the Russell Westbrook experiment isn’t working out. AD is back but LeBron missed practice and shootaround over the last two days with a knee injury and according to the latest reports he is exploring all options to make his return. There is some uncertainty as to what exactly is causing the general swelling in James’ left knee and he has no set return date. The Lakers won’t tank but Thursday’s game against their in-arena rivals won’t be easy and the Clippers are at what looks like a bargain price.
No LeBron = Back the Lake Show?
The Lakers went 7-4 SU and 2-9 ATS in games LeBron played in October and November but when AD went down James turned into an MVP. Those who backed the Lakers in December and January lost some money as they had a 12-13 SU and ATS record and now they’re 1-3 ATS and 2-2 ATS with LeBron out and AD back, so this theory isn’t valid anymore.
The Clippers haven’t played since Monday’s 122-116 road loss against the Pacers as 1-point faves while the Lakers got a hard-fought 99-94 win against the Trail Blazers as 4-point home favorites last night. Anthony Davis went off for 30 points and 15 rebounds on 10 of 18 shooting in 37 minutes and is hard not to wonder if he has anything left for tonight.
The Clips might be without their starting center Ivica Zubac (calf) but Isaiah Hartenstein (plus-3.6 Defensive Box Plus/Minus) is back and Serge Ibaka (plus-0.3 Defensive Box Plus/Minus) can still play defense and help contain AD, who won’t likely be on the court for as many minutes as last night and the Clippers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games. I’ll sprinkle some money on the Clippers and enjoy the game.
NBA Pick: Clippers -3 (-120) at SBK