L.A. Clippers at New York
Time: 7 PM CT (ESPN)
Spread: LAC -1.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Los Angeles Clippers have dropped three-straight games and seven of its past 10 SU to fall to 31-21 on the season. The Clippers will host the struggling New York Knicks to try to get back on track as 1.5 point favorites tonight in the first of an ESPN double-header. The over/under is set at 220.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
The Clippers recently welcomed Blake Griffin back into the lineup, and he is rounding into form. But the Clips are still without starting point guard Chris Paul, and time is ticking with the team currently seeded No. 5 in the Western Conference playoff chase. The last three losses to the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors makes it imperative the Clippers are able to get back on track tonight at home against a Knicks team that has also dropped its past two games.
Griffin has now been back for six games, but the Clippers have won just two of those. In the month of February, Griffin is averaging 27.3 points, nine rebounds and 5.5 assists per game while shooting 56.3 percent from the floor. With Paul out, he is responsible for generating a lot of offense and making plays, and he did that last game with his first triple-double since 2014. In the 118-109 loss to the Raptors on Monday night, Griffin had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists with just two turnovers, but it was not enough with the Raps getting 55 points from its starting backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Austin Rivers had another strong game with 22 points, but the Clippers struggled defensively and were out-rebounded 47-39.
Until Paul returns from his thumb injury, the Clippers will continue to rely on Raymond Felton, Rivers and Jamal Crawford in much heavier doses. Paul was able to do some light shooting and dribbling early last week, but there is no news regarding a date of his return. The Clips have largely been utilizing three-guard sets featuring Felton at the 3-spot, but that M.O. was also in operation while Paul was healthy. L.A.’s play from the 3-spot has been a weakness throughout this entire Paul-Griffin era, and it is also that this season may be the last chance for the Clippers with both guys hitting free agency this offseason and the team never achieved any major successes under their respective leadership.
The Knicks have lost 5 of 7 SU including last game’s 121-107 loss to the L.A. Lakers. Kristaps Porzingis was out of sync much of the night, and he appears to still be at least a little hobbled by the Achilles’ injury he suffered weeks ago. He finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, but shot just 5 of 14 from the field and was often a bit slower on the defensive end. Carmelo Anthony had 26 points on 10 of 17 shooting, and his name circulated this week as a potential trade target of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. James denied implying he would deal Kevin Love to obtain Anthony, but for the Knicks that might be sort of a dream scenario.
The Knicks need to find a way to move past the Anthony era and hand the scepter to Porzingis, but the only way that might be plausible is by trading Anthony. Derrick Rose, similarly, has held the Knicks in stasis, as both he and Melo tend to dribble possessions away and take the Knicks younger players out of sets and out of the offense. While Porzingis is having an exceptional season overall, he and Mindaugas Kuzminizkas are the future of the Knicks’ frontcourt, while Anthony and Rose represent the muddled present, which sees the Knicks nine games below .500 and fading further out of contention in the Eastern Conference.