Free Picks: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Clippers vs Lakers NBA week 20
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, Staples Center

The Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers will converge on their joint home, the Staples Center in downtown L.A., on Thursday night for the Battle for Los Angeles. It will be the third and final edition of this matchup for this campaign’s regular season, though one of the most important players will not be taking the floor. The Lakers have been missing their top guys all season, however, so this game should be no different for the supporting cast.

Lakers, Clippers Clash In Battle For L.A. And Seeding (Season Betting Record: 92-101)

The Los Angeles Lakers have, unfortunately, been playing without their leader and best player, LeBron James for most of the latter half of this season. The King missed a career-high 20 straight games after having his ankle got rolled up on in March, and it seems as though he tried to make his return prematurely.

After playing 32 minutes in his return last Friday, LeBron said he felt a bit of tightness in the ankle. Perhaps predictably, he was unable to finish the team’s next game that Sunday and has now been ruled out of three games at least: Tuesday’s surprise upset win over the Nuggets, this clash with the Clippers, and a date with the Portland Trail Blazers a day later on Friday night.

While Anthony Davis has continued to look lackadaisical and apathetic on the court a lot more often since his return than you’d want from your superstar, the Brow is still arguably the most skilled big man in the game today, perhaps behind only Denver’s Nikola Jokic. It just so happens that the Joker went to town against Clippers center Ivica Zubac in their last meeting, only slowing once the team switched to DeMarcus Cousins to D up the MVP frontrunner.

The Clippers lost that game, but Cousins’ experience, savvy, and tough mindset were evident, and clearly made him a much better match up with the Brow as well. Hopefully head coach Tyronn Lue and his staff will see the necessity of that adjustment again.

We’re not going to be putting money down on the Lakers until they show they can play ball consistently with this new group of guys: they are just 2-5 straight up and 1-5-1 against the spread since Anthony Davis made his return. 

For that reason, we’ll have to make the Clippers our NBA pick in this edition of the Battle for L.A. Not to mention that the Lakers are 13-20 ATS at Staples this season while the Clippers have gone 20-14 ATS in their joint home.

And it’s not like we have to be forced into making the Clips one of our top picks either, it’s just a smart wager. The Clippers have won the previous two meetings this season, one each as an underdog and a favorite, and will look to make it a season sweep of the Lakers here. The Clippers have gotten the better of the purple and golden quite often recently actually, taking four of the past five meetings ATS. 

The Lakers will come into this clash with an extra day of the rest, but they haven’t turned those kinds of advantages into covers very often this season, doing so in just four of seven tries. The Clippers, meanwhile, thrive on a rest disadvantage, putting up an 11-5-1 ATS mark in those situations this season, second only to the Phoenix Suns.

We also like the Clippers because of the fact that Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are both due for big-time games. PG went on a streak of seven 30+ point games in eight tries in late April but has failed to top 25 in his last four outings. Kawhi, meanwhile, has been uncharacteristically quiet offensively since his return from injury, averaging just 14.7 points through his last three. The Klaw won’t continue deferring for much longer.

If you hadn’t caught on, we like the Clippers spread as one of our best bets for today. It’s a little bigger than we’d like, but we’ll go with the -7.5 NBA point spread at decent -119 NBA odds as our favorite NBA pick for this final edition of the Battle for L.A. of the 2021 season.

Stats

  • Clippers have won and covered in both previous meetings this season
  • Lakers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a SU win
  • Lakers are 1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 games overall
  • Clippers are 11-5-1 ATS this season when playing with a rest disadvantage

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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. Follow Alex on Twitter

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