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NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Clippers Are Undervalued vs. Lakers

NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Clippers Are Undervalued vs. Lakers article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured (L-R): LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, LA Lakers forward LeBron James.

  • The Lakers and Clippers opened as a pick'em, but the Lakers have received huge money, ballooning their spread all the way up to Lakers -4.5.
  • Most of that movement is due to absences for the Clippers, who will be missing key rotation pieces in Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell.
  • But has the line moved too much? Read our breakdown of this game below, along with the best bet of this match.

Clippers vs. Lakers Betting Odds

Clippers odds +4.5 [BET NOW]
Lakers odds -4.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +190/-186 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 219.5 [BET NOW]
Time 9 p.m. ET

Odds as of Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

The NBA is back in action Thursday night. After an appealing appetizer between the Jazz and Pelicans (6:30 p.m. ET on TNT), the main course features a battle between the two top teams in the Western Conference.

The Lakers and Clippers renew their rivalry at 9 p.m. ET, albeit in Orlando instead of at the Staples Center. The Clippers won the first two meetings between these teams, but the Lakers took the last showdown.

The Lakers are currently listed as 4-point favorites for Thursday’s contest, while the total sits at 216.0 points.

Where is the betting value in this matchup? Let’s break it down.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are going to be without Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell for their first game of the restart. Both players are still in the quarantine stage after leaving the bubble — Harrell for a family emergency, Williams for chicken wings — which leaves the Clippers without two of their top options. Both players come off the bench, but it’s not surprising to see them on the floor to close out a game.

That said, if any team can overcome their absences, it’s the Clippers. Their depth is borderline unfair at this point. We obviously know about Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who make up the Clippers’ version of the “Big Two,” but they have plenty of complimentary pieces behind them. Patrick Beverley. Ivica Zubac. Marcus Morris. Reggie Jackson. Landry Shamet. JaMychal Green. The list goes on and on.

As far as on-court impact goes, Williams and Harrell haven’t been near their most important role players. Harrell has a Net Rating differential of +0.0, while Williams has a Net Rating differential of -3.8 (per Cleaning the Glass). With that in mind, the Clippers should be able to absorb their absences.

Speaking of role players, it’s impossible to understate how good the Clippers have been since adding Morris to their rotation. They’ve increased their Net Rating by a ridiculous +12.4 points over 340 minutes with Morris on the court, which is crazy since the Clippers already rank third in Net Rating. Morris hasn’t even shot that well — he’s made just 38.6% of his field goal attempts and 28.3% of his 3-pointers — but his presence gives the Clippers another big wing defender.

We haven’t seen the current version of the Clippers play a ton of minutes together, but it’s clear that this lineup has monster upside. The five-man combination of Leonard, George, Beverley, Morris and Zubac have outscored opponents by a whopping +18.8 points per 100 possessions over 124.3 minutes. They were rolling just before the hiatus, posting a 7-1 record and +14.9 Net Rating over their final eight games. That includes a 27-point win vs. the Grizzlies, a 29-point win vs. the Nuggets, and a 15-point win vs. the Thunder, all of which are currently playoff teams.

They did lose to the Lakers over that stretch, but you could definitely make the argument that this is the best team in the NBA at the moment.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers have basically clinched the top spot in the Western Conference already. They currently lead the Clippers by 5.5 games, so they’ll only need to win three games to secure the top seed. If they can beat the Clippers in this contest, it will basically be a wrap: The Clippers will trail by 6.5 games with only seven games remaining.

With that in mind, expect the Lakers to give this game their full attention.

The good news for the Lakers is that Anthony Davis is expected to play. His status was unclear earlier in the week with an eye injury, but he was able to practice in full on Wednesday.

The duo of Davis and LeBron James is the engine the drives the Lakers. They’ve outscored opponents by +10.7 points per 100 possessions with both players on the court this season, which makes them one of the top two-man combinations in basketball.

James continues to age like a fine wine in his age-35 season. His scoring numbers are down a smidge, but he’s made up for it by focusing more as a distributor. He’s currently averaging 10.6 assists per game, which is the top mark in the entire league.

LeBron also figures to be one of the biggest beneficiaries from the hiatus. The Lakers haven’t prioritized load management nearly as much as some of the other top teams in basketball, so LeBron has carried a larger workload than guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Leonard. That isn’t great for a guy in his 17th season, so the extended rest period should work in his favor.

The biggest question with the Lakers is who will surround James and Davis? Avery Bradley opted out of the restart and Rajon Rondo will miss the next 6-8 weeks recovering from thumb surgery.

That may not sound great on the surface, but those absences could wind up being beneficial for the Lakers. Rondo was one of their worst players in terms of on/off court differentials: The Lakers Net Rating decreased by -6.8 points per 100 possessions with Rondo on the court this season (per Cleaning the Glass).

Bradley hasn’t been nearly as big of a detriment — his Net Rating differential is +0.6 — but his absence could allow Danny Green and Alex Caruso to see a few additional minutes. Both players trail only LeBron in terms of on/off differential this season, so the team should theoretically benefit from their increased presence.

Betting Analysis & Pick

I don’t see any reason why the Clippers should be underdogs against anyone at this point, especially 4-point underdogs. Yes, they are missing Williams and Harrell, but no team is better equipped to handle the absences of two players than the Clippers at the moment. You could even make the argument that the Clippers would be better off funneling those minutes to guys like Beverley, Morris and Zubac instead.

As for the game itself, the Clippers match up pretty well vs. the Lakers. They have two of the better wing defenders in the league to throw at LeBron, who is still the key to the Lakers’ success. They will miss Harrell’s presence against Davis — he has spent the most time as his primary defender this season — but they should be able to piece it together.

The Clippers are my pick to win the title when all is said and done, so I will gladly fade the public and grab the points.

The Pick: Clippers +4 (I would play anything better than Clippers +2.5)

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