LA Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors Pick
LA Clippers (48-34, 45-36-1 ATS regular season – 0-1, 0-1 ATS playoffs) vs. Golden State Warriors (57-25, 35-46-1 ATS regular season – 1-0, 1-0 ATS playoffs)
When: Monday, April 15th, 2019 – 10:30 pm ET
Where: Oracle Arena – Oakland, CA
By: Kyle Cash, NBA Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LAC +13.5/GSW -13.5 (5Dimes Sportsbook)
Situations: NBA Western Conference Playoffs – Round 1, Game 2 – Warriors Lead 1-0
It had been a long time since we’ve seen a sports comeback story as epic as the one we saw Sunday afternoon, but I am happy to tell you that it finally happened: Portland finally won a Round One playoff game. Some said it would never happen again. Some predicted an outright winner from an away team whose first/second best player is currently running around with half an arm missing. Some handicappers are dumb. Some of these describe me.
But we soldier on. One out of three ain’t cutting it; it’s playoff time, and I had a worse performance this weekend than Kyle Lowry or Ben Simmons. Let’s go back to the well with the only playoff series that I currently have a read on as the LA Clippers march back into ORACLE for another potential beatdown at the hand of the champs. Sportsbooks liked what they saw from GSW on Saturday night and doubled down on them as they are currently favored by 13.5-points over the Clips with the total set to a pleasing 230.5 points.
Uh-Oh – We’re in Trouble
You know that part in Billy Madison when he comes out for recess and beats the crap out of all of the kids on the playground with a dodgeball? That’s probably where we are with this Clippers season at this point. Pat Bev the metaphorical O’Doyle in this situation, and his incessant bullying has come to an end. Golden State has five All-Stars on the floor to start the game, and the only All-Stars that the Clippers have are currently wearing a 76ers uniform. And yes, I’m counting Boban as All-Star as well. This is my column – I make the rules, not you.
And now, the Clippers are in big, big trouble. Their only way out is forward, and they can start by switching up their defensive scheme. Steph was clearly the most dangerous man on the floor on Saturday night, and stopping him should be their biggest concern. Unfortunately, they are plugging up holes in their sinking ship, and every time they plug one, they neglect another. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are holes that need to be filled as well, and the Clippers are out of hands.
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In that case, their only option is to stand and fight. Golden State and their #1-ranked offense can punch teams in the mouth better than anyone, but can they get punched? LA’s victory over GSW in the beginning of the year came via an OT shoot-out that saw Lou Will go supernova. Him and Harrell were the lone bright spots in a dark evening on Saturday night, but Doc would serve his team well by getting into some easy offensive sets tonight. At the very least, LAC’s offense is talented enough to make the Warriors sweat, and if they can push this game into the 120’s, they have a chance to not only cover the spread but steal a victory in Oakland. A series doesn’t start until a team loses on its home floor – could we see that tonight?
It turns out that the only unanimous MVP and undeniably greatest shooter in basketball history may be a problem for the Clippers to guard. Patrick Beverley’s talents were used to attempt to stop Kevin Durant in his tracks, and the result was a +60 Net Rating for Stephen Curry. Basketball-Reference doesn’t have advanced box score Game Finders, but I searched for a Game Score of 36 (a statistic calculated based off a formula of your counting stats in a game) for a player that played less than 38 minutes in a playoff game and found that Steph is now in elite company: only Steph, LeBron, and Shaq have more than one such game in playoff history. This kind of efficiency and savagery only comes around once a decade, I suppose.
The beautiful thing about being the victor is that you don’t have to make any adjustments. Golden State’s strategy on Monday night is to take LA’s counterpunch, absorb it, and then unleash their fury all over again. The Dubs have more talent and more firepower, and they took away one of the only strengths of LA’s game by outrebounding them 53-40 and 11-7 on the offensive side. Lou Will gave them a scare for a minute by pick-and-rolling Boogie and Bogut right off of the floor, but the Death Lineup ft. Kevin Durant is still razor sharp, and the Clippers are likely to get cut again on Monday night. But can GSW cover an even greater number yet again? Why don’t you ask the guy who scored 38 points on 16 shots?
The Warriors are a well-oiled machine, and the Clippers are a bunch of spare parts thrown together in a dilapidated mess. But they are as prideful as they are dangerous, and they have the ability to throw a few wrenches into the equation. Guarding Durant is going to be an issue regardless, but Beverley’s talents will be better suited harassing Steph. I’ve been preaching it for years, but Kevin Durant is the ultimate weapon in a system built upon the generational talent that Stephen Curry possesses. Durant may be the steering wheel, but Steph is the engine. If LAC, getting 13.5 -105 at 5dimes, can make Steph’s life harder, it’ll force him off-ball into a different role as a secondary playmaker, and Durant’s offensive brand of heavy isolation is easier to stop than Steph’s beautiful mind. Doc Rivers is a Coach of the Year finalist for a reason; he’s a thinking man, and their defense will make adjustments to keep this one closer. Game One wasn’t as lopsided as the final score indicated, and I think that the Clippers can put up a fight in this one. Warriors will probably still win, but it’s time for LAC to answer.
Final Score Prediction: Golden State 117 – LA Clippers 112