Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers (-4.5, 212.5 o/u)
Things haven’t been heavenly in the City of Angels lately. The LA Clippers (43-27, 22-12 Home) will try to put an end to their recent slide tonight when they host the hungry Portland Trail Blazers (37-35, 15-23 Away) at the STAPLES Center (9:30 PM Eastern).
After dropping a 114-98 decision to the Warriors last night, the Clippers have now lost five of six. Just like last year, a lack of depth is proving problematic. They are not finding buckets from their bench, and their starters haven’t been able to carry the team like they did it in January and February.
Even so, head coach Doc Rivers isn’t worried.
“We had too many single possessions where we made mistakes, but overall I liked how we played. I loved our energy,” Rivers told the Associated Press after losing to the Warriors. “I know we played with the right spirit tonight.”
LA’s defense is equally to blame for the team’s struggles; they have allowed 111.6 points per game in the last five losses, almost ten points more than their season average (101.2 PPG).
The Clippers still sit comfortably in the fourth seed in the West, though, and look primed to face fifth-place Memphis in the first round of the playoffs.
The Trail Blazers are the one team that could throw a wrench into those plans. Currently sixth in the conference, Portland has its sights set on the Grizzlies, whom they trail by four games.
They inched a little closer to Memphis last time out with a 109-103 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, but that was just their second victory in the last five. In reality, Portland has a better chance of falling to seventh (they’re just 1.5 games up on Utah and Dallas) than claiming fifth.
Portland hasn’t had success in recent visits to the STAPLES Center. They have lost seven of their last eight visits to Los Angeles, straight up. But they’ve been a decent bet, nonetheless, covering in three of the last four in LA.
Both teams are high-scoring squads, averaging just over 104 PPG on the year, and neither has a particularly good defense. So it’s not a surprise that the O/U is at an inflated 212.5. Given that LA’s offense has looked off of late, plus the fact that they played last night, this one could be lower scoring than most expect. The trends suggest the same as the the total has stayed UNDER in seven of the last ten between the Blazers and Clippers at STAPLES.
Pick: UNDER (212.5).
(Photo credit: nikk_la (Flickr: IMG_3177) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)