Los Angeles Clippers 2021 NBA Win Total Odds & Pick: Don’t Trust Kawhi & Co. In the Regular Season
Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Kawhi Leonard (2), Paul George (13) of the LA Clippers at the Staples Center.
Clippers Win Total Odds
The Case for the Over
The Clippers gave about 70% effort last season. They were caught sleepwalking through stretches of the season. They didn’t necessarily load manage as much as you might think, but they were selective with their engagement from game to game.
With 10 fewer games, there’s reason to think some of the load management will be adjusted for, even if an increase in back-to-backs to fit the season in causes issues.
The Clippers also had a rash of injury issues. Kawhi Leonard missed 15 games, which weren’t all load management. Paul George missed 24. Patrick Beverley missed 21.
Yet they still won at a 55-win pace, which would have cleared the over.
The Clippers might have learned their lesson from their disappointing loss to the Nuggets. That wasn’t just a letdown series, it was a humiliation, giving up a 3-1 lead and a double-digit lead in the last three games of the series.
Their biggest issue in that series, beyond their struggles to match up with Nikola Jokic, was that the Clippers never took the Nuggets seriously until it was too late. It was apparent the Clippers didn’t consider the Nuggets a threat from their February meeting in LA where the Clippers demolished them onward.
With a new coach in Ty Lue and some roster changes, including adding Serge Ibaka for Montrezl Harrell, the Clippers should be better and more focused. Another year together should improve chemistry and raise their floor.
The Case for the Under
You can’t trust their best player to play in any given game and if he suffers any sort of injury, that’s it for a while for him. Leonard saves his body for the playoffs and specifically has concerns about a leg injury that consistently gives him problems. You just can’t believe he’s going to play in 72 games, or even 65. He played 57 of 72 last season.
Lue’s teams in Cleveland went 1-2 in team total overs, including a half-game clearance in the one season the Cavs went over (2015-16). Those totals were higher as the East favorite, however.
The Clippers’ biggest problem was chemistry and that’s difficult to solve. Adding Ibaka for Harrell is a situational upgrade; the Clippers needed better defense and spacing and to not have Harrell’s immobility hampering them defensively.
However, under Lue, the Cavaliers were not a defensive juggernaut. Their Defensive Rating ranks were 10th in 2016, then 19th, and finally 29th (!!!) in 2018. The Clippers have better defensive personnel across the board than the Cavs did, but as a whole, it’s another data point to consider.
The Clippers took some risks in free agency as well, shipping out Landry Shamet for Luke Kennard, who is a gunner but may bring something extra. Ibaka as I said is a situational upgrade, but he’s also 31. The Clippers’ center depth remains thin.
The Clippers just seem a little unstable when trying to establish a floor high enough to clear a 54-win bar in a normal season.
Los Angeles Clippers Win Total Bet
Another stay-away, with a lean towards the under. The NBA is trying to play 72 games in 146 days. There will likely be a steady dose of back-to-backs this season. Leonard is likely to miss almost all of them, while George, Ibaka and Lou Williams are likely to miss a few as well.
There’s no reason to think the Clippers respond to the regular season under these conditions with fury; they’ll still focus on the playoffs and the title.
I like the Clippers’ title odds more than last year, given that they ran into a bad matchup and have dipped some, but I don’t want any part of their win total.