Moore: Why Lakers vs. Clippers Moved 4.5 Points Towards LeBron & Co.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James.
The NBA season opens Thursday, with Lakers-Clippers the marquee, headline matchup. It also provides a rare opportunity to track an NBA line over a significant amount of time.
Usually we get less than 48 hours to track a line, no more than 72. Even with season openers, those are usually up initially, then pulled before being reposted the week of the season’s start. But Lakers-Clippers went live in June when the NBA announced the restart schedule and have stayed up, which means we can track the movement using our Action Network tools.
Here’s how the action has shifted the line over the last month.
You’ll notice the shift starting a week ago. That was when Patrick Beverley left the bubble for a personal emergency. He returned on July 26, but that will make his clearance of quarantine (minimum four days) exceptionally tight to play in the opener.
Since then, there was the infamous incident of Lou Williams, who left campus for a wake of a family friend, and then made a stop at Atlanta gentleman’s club/adult entertainment establishment/legendary chicken wings restaurant Magic City. That prompted a 10-day quarantine upon his return. Montrezl Harrell also had to leave the bubble for a family situation and has yet to return. His availability vs. the Lakers is a near impossibility unless the league granted an extreme exemption. (Spoiler alert: they won’t.)
So Beverley is a maybe, Lou Williams and Harrell are no’s. Ivica Zubac is available, as is Landry Shamet, who was cleared earlier this week.
Notably, as seen above, the line did not move all at once, but was hit repeatedly by steam moves on the Lakers.
Now, typically, players who aren’t stars will only slightly affect a line. Even starters sometimes have no impact on the closing line. But Jeff Sherman from Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas explained to Action Network that it’s a cumulative effect.
Beverley being out may not affect the line, but Beverley being out plus Lou Williams being out moves the line. Beverley being out plus Harrell, one of two legit big men for the Clippers, moves the line further. Shamet being back helps the Clippers.
Anthony Davis was dealing with an eye issue after the Lakers last scrimmage game this week and missed practice Tuesday. The line not moving indicated there was no concern of him missing Thursday’s game and indeed, he returned to practice Wednesday and is expected to play.
The line did move back to Lakers -3.5 early Wednesday as of this writing. The Lakers lines always tend to begin with the precept that the public will be on the Lakers. As of this writing, both the percentage of tickets and money are on the Lakers at a 65% rate.
The line only moved 1.5 points or more against the Lakers seven times this season. In those games, LA is 5-2 ATS.
An interesting corollary here lies in who is missing for the Lakers. Rajon Rondo (injury) and Avery Bradley (opt-out) are unavailable. Beverley and Williams are certainly better and more impactful; the replacements for the Lakers have been better than the replacements in the backcourt for the Clippers.
But if the public jumps back on the Lakers to push the line back up to Lakers -4, I’m firing on the Clippers. The Lakers won their last matchup with the Clippers, and the Clippers are short-handed. There’s no way of knowing if the Clippers will take these games seriously given their casual attitude towards the regular season.
But the Clippers won two previous meetings, and have shown matchup advantages. I like the Clippers at +3.5 or higher, but will be ready to buy back on the Lakers if the Clippers announce Kawhi Leonard is sitting out because he’s on a really good Call of Duty: Warzone run or something. That’s how it is with the Clippers.
Be on your toes betting them.