Clippers vs. Lakers Christmas Day Betting Guide: Odds, Spread, Picks & Predictions

Clippers vs. Lakers Christmas Day Betting Guide: Odds, Spread, Picks & Predictions article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2), Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23).

  • The spread for tonight's Lakers vs. Clippers Christmas matchup (8 p.m. ET, ABC) is currently Lakers -2.
  • Our experts break down what should be the most heavily bet game of the holiday, with picks on the over/under and a valuable prop bet.

LA Clippers at LA Lakers Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions

  • Spread: Lakers -2
  • Over/Under: 222.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: ESPN/ABC

Odds as of Wednesday evening and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.

As you can tell by the 2-point spread, there is very little separating Los Angeles’ two basketball teams.

The Lakers come in with the better overall record, but the two teams are mirror images in the futures market. Both the Clips and Lake Show are +190 to win the Western Conference and +320 to win the NBA Championship (FanDuel).

It looks like most bettors are happy to take the points in what projects to be a tight contest. According to our market-wide bet-tracking data, 76% of the bets have landed on the Clippers in the Staples Center Derby.

Our NBA analysts dive into what could be a Western Conference Finals preview:

Betting Trends to Know

The Under is 5-2 when the Lakers face teams with a defensive rating below 102.5 (the Clippers qualify under the DRating metric, per Bet Labs). — Matt Moore

Most gamblers prefer wagering on the over and cheering for points. Since Christmas Day games are some of the most heavily-bet in the regular season, it is fair to assume that oddsmakers would inflate the total anticipating increased action on the over from the public.

This creates value betting the under.

A $100 bettor following this strategy has returned a profit of $1,449 since 2005. — John Ewing

Matt Moore: LeBron Needs To Take Over

The Lakers’ opening night loss to the Clippers was infuriating from multiple angles: Lakers fandom, the pursuit of a team’s best version and most importantly, Lakers bettors.

The Lakers posted up Anthony Davis 16 times in that game. That’s a metric ton. Davis scored 15 points on those 16 possessions. For the season, he’s shooting under 50% in the post. He’s still above water in points per possession, because he draws a ton of fouls.

But the Clippers have big, strong defenders and exceptional help defense. It also severely limits the wide-open offense they have with pick and roll, forcing teams to either respect shooters or the lob.

In general, Davis works best with this team as the tip of the spear, not leading the attack. He’s not a phenomenal passer, he can get bumped off his spot, and he struggles with physicality. Davis is a phenomenal athlete and a terrific scorer… but on this team, he’s not really built to be the engine. That’s LeBron, and things need to work through LeBron or another playmaker to set up Davis to succeed.

This matchup should be more advantageous to the Lakers than it seems. The Clippers have good inside defense but are 20th in cut points allowed per game this season. They can contain the first action, but the secondary passes get their bigs out of position. This is where the Lakers thrive. That’s how they should be able to get buckets over and over in this game if they throw out the gameplan from the first meeting.

The Clippers have a bunch of advantages, too. Their floor spacing chief among them. The Lakers continue to struggle with teams that can generate enough 3-point attempts to outpace them. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Lou Williams can all generate threes off the dribble, part of the reason they’re so good in the pick and roll.

However, it should be noted that the Clippers are 20th this season in 3-point rate. They will have to tailor their attack a little more to those strengths. If they take them, they can make them; the Clippers have the fourth-best points per possession rate on catch-and-shoot opportunities, league-wide. They need to punish the Lakers for their big lineups.

This needs to be a big LeBron scoring game — provided he plays — for the Lakers to win. The Clippers are 26th per possession in pick and roll scoring defense, and 23rd in points per game pick and roll scoring allowed. They play drop coverage, with the big retreating to the basket to contain. This means James’ mid-range jumper and floater need to be going to punish them for that and force adjustments, or he needs to load up and burst to the bucket. His injury may compromise this.

I want to bet Lakers here as I did in the opener. The ability of the Lakers inside should counter and bend the Clippers back, and the Clippers facing tough, long defenders should matter.

But between James’ injury, what I’ve seen from Davis (which doesn’t match the MVP/DPOY narrative about him at all though he’s still been great) and the Clippers’ ability to more easily win the math problem of 3-pointers, I’m forced to lean Clippers here.

With the total, I like the under. LA might be able to feast on cuts to the rim, but the Clippers will keep their 3-point shooters down, and Patrick Beverley’s biggest weakness (off-ball defense and awareness) isn’t as much of a risk vs. LA who doesn’t have secondary playmakers. If LeBron doesn’t play, the Lakers offense dredges into an Anthony Davis post-up fest, which sounds like a great idea until you realize he’s shooting under 50% on post-ups this season.

The Lakers have the perimeter defense to contest the Clippers shooters, and better rim protectors than the Clippers have. Both teams will contain the roll man, and neither have effective pick-and-pop options.

This seems likely to be a drudge of a game, a defensive battle, and LeBron’s availability further increases the number of outcomes for the under.

Pick: Under 223

Brandon Anderson: The Top Clippers-Lakers Prop Bet

THE PICK: Under 17.5 Points (-110)

Harrell has been a monster this season, scoring 19.0 points per game in 29.2 minutes out there, both career highs. Harrell may still be coming off the bench in name, but he’s putting up starter numbers as the only reliable Clippers big man.

Harrell had 17 points and seven rebounds in the season-opener against the Lakers, playing 38 minutes. That was a Lakers team not yet prepared to put Anthony Davis in a place to dominate, but Davis has gotten more comfortable since, and Harrell has no chance against him.

That could mean decreased minutes if Harrell gets in foul trouble or gets benched for a better defender, and it could simply mean worse numbers against one of the leading contenders for Defensive Player of the Year.

Our model tips Harrell at 14.6 points, giving you some real margin for error here. Remember, there are always more ways to go under. Play Harrell confidently up to -145.

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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