Still on course to finish up with the best regular season in franchise history, the Los Angeles Clippers have a golden opportunity to head into the NBA play-offs with some momentum with five of their last eight games at home. But they’ll need to start picking up the pace after just one win from their last four.
That could start on Monday night, when Indiana come to Staples Center. The visitors will give the Clips exactly the kind of test they require to dispel the major doubts about their title credentials – or make them grow.
In their previous four games, LA have given up an average of just over 100 points per night, prompting coach Vinny Del Negro to publically question their effort. While the Pacers are a defensively-orientated squad, they’ve scored at a clip of almost 104 per game during their current four-game winning streak.
A stuttering finish and a first-round exit would leave Del Negro on the hot seat and the future of Chris Paul in doubt. Indiana, who are +4.5 on the handicap, look capable of heaping on the pressure in a game that looks a good bet to go over the total points line of 189.0, available at 1.91.
With the LA Lakers stumbling, Utah have stolen back eighth spot in the Western Conference with four straight wins. They’ll get a shot at tightening their grip when they host Portland tonight. The Trailblazers, on the verge of elimination from the post-season race, have given up four in a row by an average of 18.7 points, conceding 111 per game.
More of that and Utah – who have put in 107.8 per game during their surge - should cruise by on the handicap of -9.5, available at 1.91.
Best bet: Take Indiana to beat the LA Clippers