The Los Angeles Clippers won their third straight game on Sunday night when they took care of business against the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 128-111 win without the services of their two best players. They could be in the same position when they meet the 11-15 Miami Heat at the Staples Center in the second leg of their back-to-back on Monday night.
Free Picks: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Miami Heat
Heat Look To Pounce On Shorthanded Clippers (Season Betting Record: 34-34)
The statuses of L.A.’s two superstars will be important indicators of how this matchup will go. There’s little doubt that Paul George will be ruled out for the sixth straight game as he continues to struggle with bone edema in his foot, but Kawhi Leonard could be a real wild card. Leonard seemed to have been banged up in the Clippers’ Friday win, though he played through it and scored 33 points. However, he sat on Sunday night with what is now being called a lower left leg contusion.
Despite his reputation for load management, Leonard had only missed four games before Sunday’s absence, so while the contusion may be of no issue, the Clippers could very well take this opportunity to be cautious and keep Leonard out for a second straight game considering the short turnaround. L.A. has gone 2-1 straight up in three games without both George and Leonard this season, though their wins came against the 10-18 Cavaliers and the Heat without Jimmy Butler.
Even without Butler, the Clippers barely won that game, and we believe that as long as the Klaw does indeed sit for this one, Miami has a great chance on Monday night to even the score. The Heat are going into the Staples Center as pretty big underdogs, and we like the value that their +5.5 point spread at -116 NBA odds is offering.
Without Kawhi, the Clippers will have to rely on the same core of six players that Tyronn Lue and his staff rode for about 30 minutes apiece on Sunday night. It doesn’t help that the Clippers have been falling into this COVID-affected season’s theme of bad home play, posting a subpar 5-7 mark against the spread at Staples so far during this campaign.
The fact that Miami has their alpha dog Butler back in the mix is no small thing. Butler is truly the heart and soul of this Heat team, as well as being their best player. With Butler in the lineup this season, Miami has gone 8-6, but in the dozen games that the Marquette Alumnus has had to miss—mostly due to health and safety protocols—his team has put up an ugly 3-9 record.
Miami has a ton of intriguing talent, but Butler is the engine that makes the car hum, so when he’s in there, they’re a completely different beast. Butler has been known to play with a rather large chip on his shoulder as well, so when he plays bad and his team loses, he doesn’t take it lightly.
In Miami’s last game, Butler shot just 30 percent as his team lost by 18. Since joining the Heat at the beginning of last season, Butler has led his squad to a 5-1 record after losses in which Butler shot under 40 percent from the field. The 31-year-old has also been averaging 22.5 points per game across that sample size of a half dozen contests, so we also like the over on Butler’s 21.5 points prop at -120 odds as one of our best bets for today.
- Los Angeles is 5-7 ATS as a home favorite this season
- Los Angeles is 2-3 ATS in their past five games
- Miami has won 4 of its past 5 games
- Miami is 3-4 ATS as an away underdog this season
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The Los Angeles Clippers will renew hostilities with the Dallas Mavericks, who they dispatched in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets and the league’s presumptive NBA MVP will look to get off to a strong start against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1.
The Golden State Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies in the final play-in game, which will determine the Western Conference’s eighth seed.
The Washington Wizards will host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night with the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference on the line.
Alex is an alumnus of Ryerson University's RTA Sport Media program, a contributing NHL, NBA, and MLB writer in the BetPicks.ca team. He has been writing on sports, betting, and fantasy contests for several years, including pitstops as an NFL Editor for theScore and as one of the lead NBA news writers for fantasy sports site FantasyPros. As a lifelong athlete, bettor, and sports fan, Alex is uniquely qualified to help you reach the sports betting success that you've always dreamed of and your wife never believed you could achieve.