NBA Thursday: Clippers and Pelicans attractive underdogs

NBA Thursday: Clippers and Pelicans attractive underdogs article feature image

The Denver Nuggets forgetting how to defend last night wasn’t ideal, but an equally poor showing offensively secured the under. Today, I’ve left three games alone and picked out two underdogs capable of an upset.

Clippers @ Trail Blazers

With both teams scoring plenty of points, this game could be one of the best of the season so far.

The Clippers, led by dark horse MVP candidate Blake Griffin, are sixth in points scored at 113.3 per game. Portland is just behind them, ranking seventh at 112.8 points per game; the Blazers also have the players to blow teams off the court.

Griffin is on a tear, averaging 26.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists, shooting 50.9 percent from the field. Most notably, he’s hitting 44 percent of the six 3-point attempts he’s putting up per game so far.

After seeing how easily DeMarcus Cousins scored against the Blazers’ frontcourt on Tuesday, I like Griffin to have a big game here tonight.

Los Angeles has DeAndre Jordan, who will trouble anybody driving through the lane, but Portland’s biggest strength is shooting from the outside. They are second in 3-point percentage at 44.4 percent, but 29th in 2-point percentage at 44.5 percent.

As impressive as those long-range shooting numbers are, the Clippers are well-equipped to handle them. Patrick Beverley will harass one of Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum, while the Clippers as a team are ranked first in opponent 3-point percentage at 25 percent.

The Clippers match up perfectly with the Trail Blazers, and at 3-0 ATS so far this season, I like them to take this one in Portland.

Pick: Clippers +2.5

Pelicans (1-3) @ Kings (1-3)

The line opened at +2 for the Pelicans, which looked too good to be true. Anthony Davis is listed as day-to-day, but should he not recover from tweaking his knee, it could open the game up for DeMarcus Cousins.

Boogie is arguably the best offensive center in the league, but his 31 points, 12 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game haven’t been translating into wins.

The Cousins/Davis pairing sounded great before they got together: two hard-to-handle bigs taking turns beating up the opposition. The problem is, Cousins is a better bully solo.

The sample size is small, but here we see how Cousins has gone this season with Davis on the floor:


And off the floor:


It’s the first game Cousins will play against the Kings in Sacramento, and given he’s leading the league in usage rate at 37.4 percent, you can bank on him trying to put up numbers against his former team. With how he’s been playing so far this season, he could single-handedly see the Pelicans through to a comfortable win.

Pick: Pelicans -1

Hawks (1-3) @ Bulls (0-3)

  • Dennis Schroder is out
  • Bulls are ranked 28th in points per game (96.9)
  • Hawks are 1-3 ATS

Mavericks (1-4) @ Grizzlies (3-1)

  • The teams played each other last night in Dallas; the Mavericks won 103-94
  • Grizzlies 2-0 ATS at home
  • Grizzlies 0-3-1 vs. the under

Celtics (2-2) @ Bucks (3-1)

  • Celtics are 3-1 ATS
  • Bucks are shooting 48.9 percent from the field (second in the NBA)
  • Celtics are seventh in defensive rating (98.9)
  • Celtics are second in opponent 3-point percentage (26.4 percent)

Be part of the Action

Download the Sports Action app at the App Store or Google Play