Once Upon A Time In Las Vegas – Divisional Round
Los Angeles will try to snap out of its losing stretch when it travels to San Antonio during the second game of a four-game road trip on Friday night. The Clippers have lost nine of their last 11 games, losing to Utah in a 126-103 blowout on Wednesday. San Antonio was able to break its five-game losing streak with a 106-98 upset against Brooklyn on Tuesday.
Clippers happy to have George back
Los Angeles got off to a 2-4 start this season, but it went through several lengthy winning patches after that, including a stretch of nine wins in 12 games in November. The Clippers also won seven out of nine games in late December to get six games above the .500 mark overall this season. They have not been able to maintain that form of late, losing nine of their 11 games since then. Los Angeles opened that stretch with a six-game losing streak before beating Dallas and Houston in two of its next three games. The Clippers have suffered double-digit losses to Philadelphia and Utah since then, falling to one game below the .500 mark overall.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) January 19, 2023
They are in third place in the Pacific Division, sitting four games back of Sacramento in the standings. Los Angeles is also in eighth place in the Western Conference standings, so it is currently positioned to participate in the play-in tournament. The Clippers recent got star guard Paul George back from a five-game absence, as he scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds against Philadelphia on Tuesday. George sat out in the second leg of the back-to-back on Wednesday, but he is not listed on the injury report heading into this game. He leads the Clippers with 23.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, while Kawhi Leonard is adding 19.4 points and 6.1 rebounds. Veteran guard John Wall, who is the fifth-leading scorer (11.4) is out indefinitely with an abdominal injury. The Clippers are dead-last in the NBA in scoring, averaging 109.2 points per game. They are facing a San Antonio defense that is also dead-last, allowing 121.2 points per game.
Spurs take advantage of shorthanded Nets
San Antonio got off to a 5-2 start this season, but it has been a nightmarish campaign for Gregg Popovich’s team since then. Outside of a three-game winning streak in early December, the Spurs have not registered consecutive wins. They lost 16 out of 17 games from early November to early December, and they have been in a losing rut since mid-December as well. San Antonio does have something to build on coming into this game, though, as it snapped a five-game losing streak with a 106-98 win against Brooklyn on Tuesday. The Spurs had opened their four-game homestand with a pair of losses to Golden State (at the Alamodome) and Sacramento, but they responded by beating Brooklyn as 2-point underdogs.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 19, 2023
Small forward Keldon Johnson poured in a career-high 36 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, taking advantage of a Nets team that was without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Johnson finished 11 of 26 from the floor, including two clutch shots in the fourth quarter. He has been the team’s leading scorer this season, averaging 21.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. The Spurs are currently playing without second-leading scorer Devin Vassell (19.4), who is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Their third-leading scorer is guard Tre Jones (13.8), who is dishing out a team-high 6.4 assists as well. San Antonio is No. 21 offensively (112.5) and is facing a Clippers defense that ranks fourth (110.5).
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This is an excellent spot to back a Los Angeles team that I believe is undervalued right now due to George’s injury. He has only returned for one game, but he has had multiple days to rest since playing that game, so he should be good to go for a solid workload on Friday night. The Clippers are desperate to get back in the win column, and having their leading scorer drastically changes their outlook. They have been an outstanding defensive team all year, so having George and Leonard offensively makes them a much more dangerous team. San Antonio is the worst defensive team in the NBA, making this a perfect get-right game for the Clippers, who have won and covered the spread in five of the last seven meeting between these teams.
Prediction: Los Angeles -7
Full-Game Total Pick
I am finding some hidden value on the total as well, which all comes back to George being back on the court. There are going to be plenty of people avoiding the over in a game involving the league’s worst offense, but George’s return changes how good this team is offensively. The Clippers have desperately missed having their leading scorer, as he not only gets plenty of good looks on his own, but he also spreads the court out for everyone else. San Antonio’s defense is the worst in the NBA, which has caused the over to hit in 13 of its last 16 games.
Prediction: Over 232.5