NBA Odds, Pick, Preview for Clippers vs. Lakers: Which Los Angeles Team Holds Edge in LeBron James’ Return? (December 3)

NBA Odds, Pick, Preview for Clippers vs. Lakers: Which Los Angeles Team Holds Edge in LeBron James’ Return? (December 3) article feature image

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

  • The Los Angeles Clippers and L.A. Lakers will face off for the first time this season Friday.
  • The Lakers expect to have LeBron James back in the lineup and are short home favorites against their cross-city rivals.
  • Austin Wang explains why he's backing the Clippers in this spot.

Clippers vs. Lakers Odds

Clippers Odds+1.5
Lakers Odds-1.5
Time10 p.m. ET
TVNBA League Pass
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

On Friday night, the two Los Angeles teams face off for the first time this season at the Staples Center.  What was originally imagined to be a high-profile matchup between two title contenders is a battle between two middling teams that are each hovering around .500.

The Clippers are coming off an awful six-game homestand where they went 2-4 straight up and 1-5 against the spread. Paul George took a rest day in the Clippers' last game and should be back in action on Friday night.

In a surprising twist, LeBron James was cleared from health and safety protocols to return on Friday's game. Will this give the Lakers an edge? Let's break down the matchup below.

Clippers In Favorable Spot to Bounce Back

The Clippers have lost three games in a row, two of which where they were large favorites in against the Pelicans and the Kings.

Road teams off two losses as home favorites have gone 41-22-1 ATS (65.1%) since the 2017-18 season, per the Sports Data Query Language at Gimme the Dog. The market undervalues teams in this situation, who have typically bounced back after two embarrassing losses. I expect the same of the Clippers against their hometown rivals.

George should be fresh after his day of rest. The Clippers, who rank fourth in Defense Rating (104.5) this season, should fare much better against the Lakers, who have struggled to find their footing on offense this season.

The Clippers have dominated this matchup recently, going 11-4 ATS vs. the Lakers since the 2017-18 season, including covering four games in a row. The market still considers the Lakers as the best team in town while the Clippers have dominated this matchup over the past several years.

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Will the Lakers' Inconsistency on Offense Continue?

James may be back in the lineup, but the Lakers still face some uncertainty with Anthony Davis listed as questionable for the game.

Davis has been the Lakers' most valuable player this season on both ends of the floor. He has been shooting fewer 3-pointers lately and has been the anchor for this team as James has missed some time. If Davis sits, it will have a huge impact on the Lakers.

Both teams played the Kings in their previous game. The Clippers got dominated after George's late scratch. On the other hand, the Lakers pulled away in the second half with an easy win. Russell Westbrook has played well, exceeding the 20-point mark in six consecutive games.

Integrating a high-usage player such as James back into the lineup could cause some issues for an already inconsistent Lakers team, especially when Westbrook has been playing well and may have some irrational confidence going into Friday's game. I can see Westbrook continuing to take a lot of shots, but struggle since the Clippers will be the best defense the Lakers have faced in a while.

Clippers-Lakers Pick

This is one of those games you should wait until the lineups are announced on Friday evening. Both teams are notorious for late scratches and ambiguous injury statuses.

At the current state, I think with the news of LeBron announced in and the Clippers' recent struggles, the public will look to pounce on the Lakers on Friday night. I would lean towards taking the Clippers against the underachieving Lakers, especially if they are underdogs.

The Lakers are 6-16 (27.3%) ATS this season and I think they will struggle to integrate James back into the lineup after their blowout win against the Kings.

Pick: Clippers +1.5 (bet up to -2)

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