Having rolled out the red carpet to bring coach Doc Rivers to Hollywood, the Los Angeles Clippers are shooting for the A-List. And to achieve that in what is going to be a fascinating battle for the Western Conference, they’ll need to overhaul the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After being swept last season, the Clips get a chance to prove they’re ready to be a contender on Wednesday night when they host OKC.
The Clippers have all the firepower they need, averaging a league-high 109.9 points per game. But if, as they claim, defence wins championships, then Rivers’ chief task is to get his players to buy into his system and reduce their currently horrific concession of 106.4 per night.
Even in holding Minnesota to just 41.7% shooting on Monday, LA still gave up 107. And even their best defensive performer, DeAndre Jordan, still allows opponents to shoot 61.3% at the rim, something which could give Serge Ibaka an opportunity to put up some points here.
The Spain international is getting 13.2 points per game, and with Kevin Durant averaging 30.2 and Russell Westbrook 19.0, those options will come at the Clippers, pushing up the pace. That suggests going over the total points line of 209 at 1.91, but have a punt on the Thunder on the handicap of +3.5.
The multiple threats posed by the Atlanta Hawks could pose a major nightmare for the New York Knicks tonight as Mike Woodson tries to break his team out of their slow start. 2-4 so far, they were crushed by San Antonio on Sunday at home with Carmelo Anthony scoring a mere 16 points and the Knicks shooting just 38%.
That points to a huge problem for New York, who’ll have to overcome the Hawks muscular pairing of Paul Millsap and Al Horford in the paint with Carmelo Anthony. More of this lethargy and Woodson’s job could be in jeopardy. Go with Atlanta at -4 on the handicap.
Best Bet: Take Oklahoma City over the LA Clippers on the handicap at 1.91.