Now that the Los Angeles Clippers are back to full strength, will we see them return to winning ways and make a sustained charge for the NBA title? Even having Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Chauncey Billups available together for the first time in an age couldn’t stop LA from crashing to a 22-point humbling in Miami on Friday, with their defence was missing in action.
The Clips are giving up an very respectable 93.7 points per game - one of the keys to their brief hold on the league’s best record - but they’ll need to recapture their old form on Sunday when they visit the New York Knicks.
Their hosts have won four of their last five, with their last victory – against Minnesota – the only to have been achieved by less than ten points. They’ve also got an interior presence in Tyson Chandler who figures to make Blake Griffin work for every point. Although the Clippers are good enough and deep enough to be one of the strongest sides after the All Star Break, New York can catch them off guard on the handicap of 3.5, available at 1.96. But the Knicks might have to count on a number of players stepping up, so take Carmelo Anthony to score under 29.5 points at 1.91.
There could be no worse time for the banged-up Los Angeles Lakers to call on Miami. The Heat are on a four-game winning streak and face a side without Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. The Lakers have won seven of their last nine, including five consecutively on their current road swing, but none of those have come against elite teams.
Last month LeBron James hit a season-high 39 points as Miami took a 99-90 win over LA, and the Heat should have Chris Bosh and Ray Allen back after they sat out against the Clippers with flu. It all spells danger for the Lakers.
San Antonio’s winning streak was ended at 11 by Detroit on Friday and they’ll now try to start a new run when they land in Brooklyn. The Nets were embarrassed by Washington two days ago and fell to a 104-73 loss against the Spurs six weeks ago. But there is an x-factor here: Brooklyn coach PJ Carlesimo knows San Antonio inside-out. So while the Spurs should prevail, they’ll have to work for it.
Bet of the Day: Take Miami on the handicap over the LA Lakers