NBA TV Betting Preview: Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers

"Niko" may be trade bait this February
“Niko” may be trade bait this February

Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers
Time: 9:30 PM CT (NBA TV)
Spread: LAC -14.5
Total: 204

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

The Los Angeles Clippers have won two straight and seven of its past 10, and the club is showing few signs of missing star forward Blake Griffin.

Griffin broke his hand punching the team equipment manager, and the Clips are bracing to be without him for four-to-six weeks. The question that remains to be answered is, “Can the Clippers be better without Griffin?”

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NBA oddsmakers do not have to worry about answering that, but are not hesitant to place the Clippers as 14.5 point favorites against a cross-town non-rival L.A. Lakers team.

Griffin has in the midst of another great statistical season. But sometimes it has to be wondered if the phrase “Two’s company, three’s a crowd,” applies to the Clippers.

Without Griffin in the lineup, the Clippers become a team far more centered on the talents of one Chris Paul. Just as in the same manner, the team revolved around Griffin when Paul was on the shelf during the 2015 postseason. Are the Clippers better off without one of its playmakers? It seems possible.

The Clips most recently knocked off the Atlanta Hawks 85-83 last night. Only three of five starters reached double-figures, but DeAndre Jordan had an explosive 13 points and 19 rebounds and Paul was good for a double-double too with 10 assists complementing his 11 points. J.J. Redick was just 4 of 10 from the field for 12 points, but he has been on fire in recent times.

Over his past five games he has been somewhat humble, but Redick posted a 40 point outburst against the Houston Rockets on Jan 18, a game in which he was 9 of 9 from three-point range. Redick is having a career year at 16.4 points per game and has a PER of 18.37. He fits perfectly into the Clippers offense and provides court spacing.

Clippers fellow hired gun Jamal Crawford has struggled badly this season to do what Redick is effortlessly doing. Crawford is shooting just 39.3 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from three-point range. He could be precipitously declining or it could just be an off-year, there is really no good way to know for sure.

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The 9-39 Lakers have few reasons to worry about having too much talent, like the Clippers almost do. The Lake Show has dropped its past eight games and most recently was dismantled 114-91 by the Chicago Bulls. Prior to that, L.A. had dropped to the Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors. The Lakers were blown out in all of those games except a 92-90 loss at home against the Mavericks.

In the loss to the Bulls last night, the Lakers scored just 91 points while surrendering 114. Jimmy Butler came through with a huge game for the Bulls, lighting up L.A. for 26 points and 10 assists. Jordan Clarkson scored 16 for the Lakers and Julius Randle had 14 points and eight boards in the start. But Kobe was just 4 of 13 from the field for 10 points and the Lakers shot 37.6 percent from the floor in the game.

This season, L.A. is shooting 41.2 percent from the field as a team while averaging just 96.1 points per game. In many senses it can be accepted as Kobe’s farewell tour, but there is no confusing it from the 9-39 disaster it sports as a win-loss record. The Lakers are favorably positioned for another high lottery pick, and the team can begin a proper rebuild once Kobe’s $30 million-plus is off the record.

There is some bright talent in L.A., including rookies D’Angelo Russell and Randle. The Lakers will be back before people know it.

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