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NBA Best Betting Picks: Battle of L.A. Part I

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Dec/03/2021

The Los Angeles Lakers look to snap their three-game losing skid and retake L.A. from their sibling rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night. The NBA betting odds have the Lakers, who are listed  as the “home” team as -1½ favorites.

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The Clippers have won three straight games against the Lakers, who have had a rough going since they won the NBA title in the bubble in 2019-20. Their remade roster is still working out the kinks but the Lakers have won three of its last four games. 

With the defense slowly readjusting and the offense not being as clunky as it started, the Lakers are trending in the right direction. But can they take out the Clippers? 

Can the Lakers KO the Clippers? 

The Lakers are slight favorites via Las Vegas’ NBA odds. The team has an 8-6 record at home, though it has lost on eight straight point spreads when hosting their city rivals. 

The team will receive a boost with the return of LeBron James from COVID protocols. The Clippers, meanwhile, have been skidding, losing four of their last five, and are without Nicolas Batum (illness) to go with an already-missing Kawhi Leonard.   

Lakers Stay Afloat  

Every game against the Clippers is a home game for the Lakers. Los Angeles is and always will be the Lakers’ territory. However, the battered Lakers are only 4-7 against the Clippers since James donned the purple and gold.  

This current version of the Lakers has been a mess thanks to a roster overhaul. We’re talking about the team going from a slow-paced, defensive force last season to one that plays fast and furious thanks to the style of guard Russell Westbrook. 

The Lakers are second in the NBA in pace but their once-vaunted defense has slipped to 15th. Their offense is also a work in progress and is 23rd overall while having the fourth-worst turnover rate. Amidst the team’s struggles, it has found ways to win.  

Player To Watch: Carmelo Anthony has arguably been the best player on the Lakers. In his 18th season, the 37-year-old is producing his most efficient one: shooting a career-high 55.4 percent effective field goal rate. Melo averages 16.3 points while shooting 51.4 percent from deep when the Lakers win. And when they lose? His stats drop to 12.2 points on 35.1 percent shooting.   

Clippers Looking to Snap Streak 

The Clippers may have a winning streak going against the Lakers, but it currently has a three-game skid heading to this matchup. The Clippers are 3-7 in their last 10 games and their offense is ranked 27th in the NBA. The team is missing Batum and his two-way presence. 

But, like the Lakers, the Clippers have done a bit of a reversal going from an offense-oriented team last season to a defensive one. The Clippers are still third in the NBA in defensive rating and that has kept them in many games, though Paul George could use more secondary scoring support.  

Reggie Jackson is putting up 17.3 points per game, but the likes of Eric Bledsoe, Luke Kennard and Terance Mann need to step up to lighten the load off George, who is already averaging 26 points but  is starting to slow down.   

Player To Watch: Mann broke out for the Clippers in last season’s playoffs. No one will forget how he helped eliminate Utah by dropping a career-high 39 points. But this season, he’s fallen back to earth and is averaging just 9.7 points in his last nine games. The Clippers are 6-1 when he scores at least 13 points so getting back to producing on offense will go a long way for them. 

Our Pick To Win …  

Given each team’s strengths and weaknesses, the Lakers should have an edge here. The Clippers’ struggles on offense cannot be overlooked. While they have a better defense, the Lakers have more depth and more scoring options, making them a better bet on the NBA lines 

The Clippers are also just 2-8 against the spread in their last 10 and have a harder time generating offense on the road. The Lakers have managed to overcome sloppiness on offense and find ways to win. They should finally beat the Clippers.  

Pick: Los Angeles Lakers -1½

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