The Los Angeles Clippers have been forced to fight until the very end of the NBA’s regular season to try and secure homecourt advantage. They could hardly have asked for a better opponent in their penultimate game than a visit from the Portland Trailblazers on Tuesday night.
Portland are a prime example of what can occur when there is nothing tangible left to play for in the springtime, losing 11 straight by an average of 14.4 points and underlining their priorities when they started four NBA rookies against Denver on Saturday.
Creditably, they only lost by nine points and it’s likely they’ll sit most of their absentees again in LA before giving them a farewell at home against Golden State tomorrow.
Rookie of the Year favourite Damian Lillard has averaged 17.3 points so far in his three meetings with the Clippers but Chris Paul only featured in one.
With their point guard fully fit, it’s hard to see Los Angeles losing this but with a trip to Sacramento tomorrow, back them on the handicap at half-time and expect their starters to get a late breather.
With Boston’s clash with Indiana cancelled, tonight’s other tie sees the Atlanta Hawks host Toronto.
Although the lowly Raptors are finishing with a flourish after six wins out of seven, the Hawks are battling to hold off Chicago for fifth place in the Eastern Conference and earn a first round play-off showdown with Brooklyn – a better option than taking on the Pacers.
The Hawks have won both prior meetings between these teams by an average of 10 and they’re worth a punt to cover the handicap of -6.0, as well as keeping the total points below the line of 197.0.
Best Bet: Take Atlanta on the handicap over Toronto at 1.91
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