Lakers vs. Clippers NBA Preview and Free Pick

Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers. Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images/AFP (

Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers. Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images/AFP (


Even without LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers have what it takes to beat the Los Angeles Clippers and the NBA odds this Thursday.


Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Thursday, May 06, 2021 – 10:00 PM EDT at Staples Center

The 2019-20 season saw the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers battle for supremacy atop the NBA odds board – with the Lakers coming out as champions. This year, both L.A. teams have been overtaken by the Brooklyn Nets, who are +240 favorites on Bovada’s futures market at press time. But the Lakers (+375) and Clippers (+550) are still on the podium, and there’s a good chance one of them will end up meeting Brooklyn in the NBA Finals.

That’s if they can stay healthy. LeBron James (ankle) is expected to miss Thursday’s Lakers-Clippers matchup on TNT, and it remains to be seen whether Serge Ibaka (back) will be ready in time for this game. That hasn’t stopped the Clippers (44-22 SU, 36-29-1 ATS) from opening as 7.5-point “home” favorites at SBK; at that price, the Lakers (37-28 SU, 29-35-1 ATS) should be the right NBA pick.


One Out Of Two Ain’t Bad

Old-school handicappers used to pay their bills by following teams with injured superstars, counting on the betting public to lose their composure and push the NBA odds too far in the other direction. Betting markets are a bit tighter these days, but the Lakers did go 7-7 SU and 8-6 ATS between February 16 and March 20, when James was in the lineup and Anthony Davis was not.

The sneaker is on the other foot now. Davis returned from his strained left calf on April 22, and is finally starting to look like his old self again; James has played just twice since coming back from his high-ankle sprain, and is likely to miss the next two games as well. He was absent Monday when the Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 93-89 as 4-point home dogs. So was Dennis Schroder (COVID-19 protocols), who’s also expected to miss Thursday’s contest. Given how much better Alex Caruso has performed at point guard compared to Schroder, that’s another positive for Laker bettors.



Adding to the injury woes in L.A., it looks like Talen Horton-Tucker (calf) might have to sit this one out, too – he’s listed as questionable at press time. But again, the Lakers have better options on the wing. Plus, they’ve finally decided to dust off Marc Gasol and put the veteran center back in the lineup; he was instrumental in their win over Denver, leading the team at plus-17 in his 17 minutes off the bench.

Ibaka, meanwhile, is one of the reasons the Clippers look a lot more like a title contender this year than last. But he hasn’t played since mid-March, and it’s starting to show; the Clippers are 2-3 SU and 0-5 ATS in their past five, including a 110-104 loss to those same Nuggets (+5.5 away) last Saturday. It only makes sense to kick them while they’re down. Bet accordingly, and enjoy the game.

NBA Pick: Lakers +7.5 (–102) at SBK

Raptors vs. Nuggets NBA Preview

Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors slips as he brings the ball up court. Rich Schultz/Getty Images/AFP

Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors slips as he brings the ball up court. Rich Schultz/Getty Images/AFP

The new-look Toronto Raptors should have the edge against the NBA odds this Thursday when they visit the weary Denver Nuggets.


Toronto Raptors vs. Denver Nuggets

Thursday, April 29, 2021 – 09:00 PM EDT at Ball Arena


No team in the NBA has had it rougher this year than the Toronto Raptors. It was bad enough when both Marc Gasol (Lakers) and Serge Ibaka (Clippers) left for Los Angeles in free agency; then the Raptors learned they’d have to play all their home games in Tampa. But after a slow start and injuries to several players, it looked like Toronto finally had all their ducks in a row – until Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby all landed on the COVID-19 list.

So here the Raptors are at 26-36 SU and 27-35 ATS, a far cry from where they were two years ago when they hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy. However, thanks to lowered expectations and the arrival of two new bigs, the former champs look like the right NBA pick for Thursday’s game against the Denver Nuggets (41-21 SU, 29-33 ATS), who will be playing on zero days of rest after holding off the New Orleans Pelicans 114-112 as 3.5-point home favorites in a rather bruising affair. They’ve opened as 4-point faves at FanDuel versus the visiting Raptors.


Khem And The Freddies

VanVleet, Siakam and Anunoby are still the backbone of Toronto’s roster, with VanVleet posting the highest VORP (Value Over Replacement Player, as per Basketball Reference) at plus-1.8. Unfortunately for VanVleet, the coronavirus appears to have caused him the most harm of the three, but Siakam and Anunoby have largely returned to form, and the Raptors have both Kyle Lowry and promising rookie Malachi Flynn available to take the pressure off their emergent leader.

As for that mess Gasol and Ibaka left behind in the paint, the Raptors finally have a solution. After getting poor results from both Aron Baynes (minus-0.8 VORP) and Alex Len (now with Washington), Toronto signed former Orlando Magic center Khem Birch following his buyout; the Raps are 5-2 SU and ATS since Birch was added to the starting lineup. Freddie Gillespie has also played solid defense in 10 games since coming up from the G-League, earning himself a two-year contract in the process. Their arrival cushions the blow somewhat from the loss of Chris Boucher (tied with VanVleet at plus-1.8 VORP) to a sprained left MCL on April 21.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, are 7-1 SU and 3-5 ATS since Jamal Murray (plus-1.6 VORP) was knocked out for the year with a torn left ACL. They’re dangerously thin in the backcourt with Monte Morris (plus-0.3 VORP) and Will Barton (0.0 VORP) both out with strained hamstrings, and not expected to return for while; that leaves Facundo Campazzo (plus-0.1 VORP) and PJ Dozier (minus-0.1 VORP) to keep it together while Denver lean even more heavily on their impressive frontcourt. Toronto can beat the NBA odds Thursday night by using their balance and their extra day of rest to rake advantage. Bet accordingly, and enjoy the game.

NBA Pick: Raptors +4 (–110) at FanDuel

Trail Blazers vs. Pacers NBA Preview

Damian Lillard #0 and Carmelo Anthony #00 of the Portland Trail Blazers  on April 25, 2021 in Portland, Oregon.    Steph Chambers/Getty Images/AFP

Damian Lillard #0 and Carmelo Anthony #00 of the Portland Trail Blazers on April 25, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. Steph Chambers/Getty Images/AFP


Which of the Indiana Pacers will be available for Tuesday’s home game with the Portland Trail Blazers? Your NBA picks depend on it.



Portland Trail Blazers vs. Indiana Pacers

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 – 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse


You have to be impressed with how well the Indiana Pacers (29-31 SU, 25-35 ATS) are doing despite all their injuries. They’re in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, but only 2.5 games out of the top six – and an automatic playoff berth – as we go to press. That’s pretty good for a team that hasn’t been at full strength all season.

It’ll be more of the same for Tuesday’s game against the visiting Portland Trail Blazers (32-28 SU, 29-31 ATS). Myles Turner is out indefinitely with a torn right big toe, Domantas Sabonis will miss this contest with a sore lower back, and Jeremy Lamb is questionable with a sore left knee. With Portland at close to 100 percent capacity, this will be a tough challenge for the Pacers; the NBA odds are still pending at press time, but given the situation, I’ll recommend an early lean towards the Trail Blazers.


Oshae, Can You See?


It’s bad enough that the Pacers will be missing their top two bigs, including their best player overall in Sabonis (plus-2.4 VORP at Basketball Reference). Their frontcourt took another hit last week when back-up center Goga Bitadze sprained his left ankle; he’s also questionable for Tuesday, which will put even more pressure on Indiana to perform.

There is one bright spot, though: Oshae Brissett, a 6-foot-7 wing from the Syracuse Orange program, has played very well for the Pacers – so well that they signed Brissett to a three-year contract after a successful pair of 10-days. New head coach Nate Bjorkgren was able to work with Brissett last year when they were both with the Toronto Raptors, so it makes perfect sense that the pieces are fitting together in Indiana, even if Brissett has split his time between the 4 and the 5 after playing most of his rookie season at small forward.


Not Now John


The Trail Blazers haven’t had it easy this year when it comes to injuries, but this is a rare moment of health for Oregon’s lone Big Four franchise: center John Collins (ankle surgery) is their only player in sick bay heading into Tuesday’s contest. Yet the Blazers have still managed to lose their last five games at 2-3 ATS, falling into seventh place in the West as a result.

This could be a simple case of regression to the mean. Portland have a minus-0.5 point differential on the season, so they’re still running a couple of wins above expectation. However, the Pacers have a worse record than anyone the Blazers met during their losing streak, plus they’ll be without Sabonis and Turner at the very least for this matchup. Make your NBA picks accordingly, and enjoy the game.


NBA Pick: Trail Blazers -5 (1.95) at Bet365


Lakers vs. Mavericks NBA Preview


JJ Redick #17 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots the ball against the Detroit Pistons. Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP

JJ Redick #17 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots the ball against the Detroit Pistons. Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP


If Anthony Davis does indeed return for the L.A. Lakers this Thursday, the Dallas Mavericks will be the right choice for your NBA picks.


Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks

American Airlines Center, Dallas


The wait is almost over. It’s been more than two months since Anthony Davis (strained right calf) last played for the Los Angeles Lakers, but Davis says he’ll make his return this Thursday when the Lakers visit the Dallas Mavericks – provided there aren’t any setbacks between now and tip-off. This is obviously big news for L.A. fans; at press time, the Lakers (35-23 SU, 28-30 ATS) are fifth in the Western Conference standings, where only the top six teams will advance directly to the playoffs. They’re also 7-9 SU and ATS since LeBron James (sprained right ankle) joined Davis on the injured list.

It just so happens that the Mavericks (31-26 SU, 26-21 ATS) are the seventh-place team in the West. They should be the classic sharp NBA pick, given that Davis will be playing his first game after a very long injury layoff; the betting public typically over-values star players in this situation. However, Dallas will host the Lakers on zero days of rest after beating the Detroit Pistons 127-117 as 10.5-point home faves, and while they’re healthy at the moment, there’s a good chance either Luka Doncic or Kristaps Porzingis will get the night off – teams are supposed to rest their players at home, not away. A smaller bet on Dallas would be appropriate given the circumstances.

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Nets vs. Pelicans NBA Preview

 Bruce Brown #1 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles during the first half.  Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

Bruce Brown #1 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles during the first half. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP


Losing Kevin Durant (again) can help the Brooklyn Nets beat the NBA odds this Tuesday when they visit the New Orleans Pelicans.


Brooklyn Nets vs. New Orleans Pelicans

at Smoothie King Center


Here we go again. This has been the most brutal NBA season ever, with star players getting hurt left and right – not to mention all those games lost to COVID-19 protocols. No team has seen more players go missing than the Brooklyn Nets (38-19 SU, 28-29 ATS), although they kind of asked for it when they signed Kevin Durant two summers ago; he suffered a left thigh contusion on Sunday, and as we go to press, he’s just been ruled out for Tuesday’s road game versus the New Orleans Pelicans. As it happens, the Pelicans (25-32 SU and ATS) have lost the fewest man-games to injury of anyone in the league thus far. But they don’t have guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (ankle) or swingman Josh Hart (thumb) at the moment, and they’re 3-5 SU and 2-6 ATS since they lost both players in early April. Given how likely the betting public is to freak out about Durant, the Nets should be the right choice for your NBA picks, having opened as 2-point road dogs at FanDuel.

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