Los Angeles Clippers at Boston Celtics (-1, 209 o/u)
The injury-plagued Los Angeles Clippers (35-17, 18-9 Away) have a chance to go a perfect four-for-four on their current road trip when they face the Boston Celtics (31-23, 16-10 Home) at TD Garden tonight (7:30 PM Eastern).
Los Angeles has been playing without power forward Blake Griffin for some time thanks to both injuries and a four-game, team-imposed suspension. The Clippers have been surprisingly solid without their leading scorer, winning seven of their last eight and 18 of 22, overall, sans Griffin.
LA is also dealing with an injury to backup point guard Austin Davis. The reserve broke his hand against Minnesota last Wednesday and hasn’t played on the road trip. But his absence doesn’t seem to have affected the Clippers who swept the Magic, Heat, and Sixers in their last three.
“We refuse to talk about injury,” Doc Rivers told the Associated Press. “We refuse to make excuses. We come to win, that’s the only thing we have to think about. We’re becoming that team … we’re finding ways at the end.”
The 18-4 run that LA has posted without Griffin has seen the team solidify fourth-place in the Western Conference. They’re still 3.5 games back of third-place OKC, but also have a comfortable five-game cushion on fifth-place Memphis.
Tonight, the Clippers will be facing a Boston team that’s currently in a dogfight for third in the East. The Celtics are holding down that spot at the moment, but the Hawks, Heat, and Pacers are all within two games and the Pistons and Bulls aren’t far behind.
Boston lost some ground last time out, falling 112-111 at Milwaukee yesterday; but, on the whole, they’ve been surging of late, winning nine of their last 11. The offense has carried the team all year, averaging an Eastern Conference-best 105.1 points per game.
While Isaiah Thomas (21.3 PPG) is the motor that makes the Celtic engine churn, it’s depth that’s kept them near the top of the conference. Brad Stevens’ rotation sees eight players average more than 20 minutes per night, and he regularly goes 12 deep.
That depth should help keep the squad fresh after last night’s road game against the Bucks. But there’s no getting around Boston’s recent struggles against the Clippers. The Celtics are just 1-5 ATS in their last six against LA.
Yes, the Clippers are shorthanded, but injuries haven’t affected their play so far and they’ll be the fresher team. Take LA and the point.
Pick: Clippers (+1).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (DeAndre Jordan) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo may appear cropped.)