Amid the cluster of freak results in the NBA this season, the Los Angeles Clippers' loss on Saturday to the nose-diving Orlando Magic was surely the least expected. But the Pacific Division leaders face a more predictable test on Monday; they travel to Memphis as they begin a tough spell of 15 games out of 19 away from home.
The Fedex Forum has been an unhappy hunting ground for most visitors this season, with the Grizzlies going 14-4 in their own back yard. Their defence has been sublime of late, carrying then to wins in four of their last five with the shock loss to Dallas the single blemish.
Memphis is allowing just 89.7 points on average, and the twin powers of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will make it hard for Blake Griffin to spark the Clippers from inside. LA are 2.27 for victory but the Grizzles are favoured at -3 on the handicap at 1.91. They’re very capable of bearing their claws.
There are signs of life in Washington, where the belated return of John Wall has coincided with an unprecedented two-game winning streak, an accomplishment once rated more unlikely than a budget deal in the US capital. It could even go up to three when Orlando come to town, with the Magic taking just one win from their last 11 games. Washington pulled out a 105-97 win when these sides met last month and although it figures to be a close one, the Wizards should conjure up a hat-trick on a handicap of -2.
Chicago’s normally reliable defence has slipped of late, with the Bulls giving up at least 96 points in their last three games, including Saturday’s 97-81 reverse to Phoenix. They host Atlanta, whose offense has collapsed recently with Lou Williams no longer serving as a spark off the bench. The total points line is 184.0 and on the current form of both, it's better go under at 1.91.
Bet of the day: Take Washington on the handicap over Orlando at 1.91