LA Clippers vs. LA Lakers Pick
LA Clippers (36-29, 37-28 ATS) vs. LA Lakers (30-33, 26-36-1 ATS)
When: Monday, March 4th, 2019 – 10:30 pm ET
Where: STAPLES Center – Los Angeles, CA
By: Kyle Cash, NBA Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LAC +4/LAL -4
Last Week in the NBA
I’m back, baby! Less than two days ago, I was sitting on a moonlit pier eating surf and turf over the Bahamian ocean sipping on some Cabernet Sauvignon, and now here I am in the City of Brotherly Love hunkering down for a snowstorm. Life comes at you fast.
While I was away, the NBA went and got itself in a big damn hurry. The Pistons and Magic are quietly playing better basketball than anyone while the Celtics and Lakers are imploding. My son Joel was out all week with a “sore knee,” and Paul George is nursing a sprained shoulder after carrying OKC all season. And did I mention that LeBron is in the midst of the worst basketball/PR stretch of his career? Don’t worry, everybody – I was following along with the drama from my beach chair. There’s WiFi in the Bahamas.
Let’s celebrate my return with a trip to the Land of LeBron as the Clippers and Lakers have a showdown in the House That Kobe Built. With the Lakers now 4.5-games out of the 8-spot with only 19 to go, it’s go-time for all parties involved. The Clippers, meanwhile, have put their playoff hopes on the back of guys like former 76er great Landry Shamet, who knocked down 6 triples in the opening quarter tonight. Six for you, Landry. You go, Landry. The Lakers are still a 4-point favorite on their “home” court with the total set to an electrifying 238 points. Electrifying – good word. I still got it.
After a somewhat blistering start to the season, the Clippers have been able to strike a balance between staying competitive and securing their future (trading Tobias for picks) that no one else in the league has been able to emulate. Jerry West is the goddamn logo for a reason. But their Frankenstein-ien lineup has been able to survive through a combination of above-average talent, coaching, and some good old-fashioned elbow grease. You won’t see any kids wearing Lou Wiliams or Montrezl Harrell shoes any time soon, but I would much rather look up to them than the likes of Kyrie or LeBron. Raise your kids right, people – raise them as MJ fans.
The secret to the Clippers success has been their ability to dispose of the teams that they are supposed to dispose of. In the 13 games since their OT loss to the Lakers, they are 7-1 against teams with a worse record and 1-4 against teams with a better record. The Clips are a team just barely surviving day to day, but they are, on paper, a better basketball team than the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s hard to measure their success in statistics with the amount of roster turnover that they’ve had, but they still rank in the top half of the league in both offensive and defensive rating. More importantly, nobody loves a #RevengeGame than Lou Williams, and the Lakers are one of his many spurned lovers. Unfortunately, LBJ is 25-7 all-time versus Lou Will-led teams. So, yea – there’s that.
Los Angeles Losers
It had been a while since I had been on the Basketball-Reference page for the 2018-19 team statistics, so I decided to take a gander at how LeBron’s team was doing by the numbers. My conclusion is that by the end of this season, Rich Paul and Klutch will have confiscated the tapes and data from every single game and then mindwiped everyone on Earth via a Men in Black-style device. LeBron getting the spotlight “look at this dude not playing defense” treatment was the best honeymoon gift I could have ever received. Between this and the 10-hour long MJ documentary that is set to be released at some point, the inhabitants of the “LeBron > MJ” cruise liner are going to be heading to the boats and putting on their life preservers; that ship is going down quick.
With LeBron and the Lakers’ biological clocks ticking, it’s officially “put up or shut up” time in Lakers land. With only 19 games to go and 14 of them against current playoff teams, it’s now or never for LeBron’s Lakers squad. And that is really where the conversation begins and ends: LeBron James.
To haters such as myself, this is business as usual for LeBron. He will put up his typical offensive stats because he’s LeBron and he gets to make every single decision coming down the floor. And he’ll slack off on defense and conserve his energy to the max so that he is well-rested come playoff time. In order for him to take down the Clippers, there’s nothing special that he has to do except for give a shit about the game. If he is truly about to enter into “playoff mode,” then this one should be a rout. As fun of a story as the Clippers are, they have no vested interest in the playoffs this season and aren’t a legitimate title contender. If LeBron is doing that thing where he takes over every game and demoralizes opposing fanbases, then the Lakers will win in a walk.
I am firmly in the camp that believes that the Lakers are not going to make the playoffs and after losing to the Suns all sportsbooks odds are firmly in line with that thinking. I think that the Sacramento Kings are the rightful heirs to the 8-seed, and I believe it is their duty and their honor to get slaughtered by the Warriors in Round One as a rite of passage. But if you’ve been following along with me since the beginning, you know my theory about LeBron and his ability to tell a story. He is as addicted and connected to the day-to-day news cycle as any athlete in human history, and he is a wonderful thespian. He can act and sing and dance until the cows come home, and this is yet another moment when he can puppeteer the media to his likings. By the time the playoffs come around, the Lakers will have scraped their way into an 8-seed and there will be more than one idiot out there who says, “These Lakers might really have a chance against Golden State.” Oh, you mean that team that kicks LeBron’s ass in the Finals every year? That Golden State team? I apologize for railing against LeBron so much today, but I had a week’s worth of pent-up takes that I had to get out of my system. And hopefully I’ll have a week’s worth of winnings to collect when we all lay our hard-earned money on the Man Who Would Be King.
Final Score Prediction: LA Lakers 126 – LA Clippers 118