After years of irrelevance, suddenly there’s a proper rivalry in Los Angeles. And it’s the Clippers who – at least for now – have the upper hand, heading into Friday’s night derby with the Lakers with a seven-win cushion in the Pacific Division standings.
That’s despite a small bump in the road for the Clips, having lost successive games to Denver and Golden State following their perfect 16-0 run through December. The downturn was caused largely by a scoring slump that has seen them average 86 points in their initial outings of 2013.
Tonight should show whether there is something more fundamental at play. But the Clippers are favoured by 5.5 points on the handicap, with Lakers star Kobe Bryant acknowledging their neighbours' supremacy. "I think they're expected to blow us out," he said. "They expect the Clippers to come in and run all over us."
The Lakers are still short of any consistency and although they’re certainly good enough to win, they’re only 8-10 this season against teams with .500 records or better. But with both offenses capable of igniting, it’s worth looking over the total points line of 205.5.
With so much attention elsewhere, the reigning champions have been flying under the radar of late, but Miami have won eight of their last ten games to overhaul New York at the top of the Eastern Conference rankings. They visit Chicago tonight but there’s some doubt over the availability of LeBron James, who has been averaging 28.4 points over his last ten appearances.
Since he joined the Heat, Miami are 2-5 when James has been sidelined. If he does sit, then have a look under the points line of 191.0 at 1.91, or consider the Bulls on the handicap of +8.0.
Bet of the Day: Take the Clippers over the Lakers on the handicap of -5.5 at 1.91.