Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers Preview and Pick

L.A. Clippers (0-0 0-0 ATS) vs. L.A. Lakers (0-0 0-0 ATS) Staples Center Los Angeles CA 10:30 PM EST Tuesday October 27, 2009 on TNT
by Jason Green of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Clippers +10 / Lakers -10
Over/Under: 205

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Tonight in the opening game for both teams the battle of L.A. resumes, as the Clippers take on the Lakers. To call this a battle is a little strong, as the Lakers have been one of the best teams in the history of the NBA and the Clippers have had 2 winning seasons in 20 years in La La Land. Even though the slate is clean and this is a brand new season these teams are already heading in different directions. The Lakers are the defending champs and unveil new small forward Ron Artest to an already stacked lineup with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol and the Clippers lost #1 pick Blake Griffin to a knee injury, as the so called “savior” for the franchise may miss more than a month.

It’s too bad that the Clippers will miss Griffin, as they have a legit lineup, if they are healthy, with Baron Davis and young studs Al Thornton and Eric Gordon. However, without Griffin in the lineup they do not match up well with the Lakers. The Lakers won the title last season and even though Artest is an upgrade over Trevor Ariza at the SF position team chemistry is a minor concern. Zen master Phil Jackson recently stated, “On paper we certainly are a better team, but sometimes it’s chemistry that counts between players and how they work together.”

Last season the Lakers were one of the highest scoring teams in the NBA averaging 106.9 ppg and shooting just over 40% from the floor while the Clippers averaged only 95.1 ppg shooting only 36% from the floor. On D The Lakers were decent, while the Clippers could not stop other teams from lighting up the scoreboard. The Lakers were a better team on the boards with a rebounding differential of +2.5 rpg while the Clippers were killed on the boards with a rebounding differential of -4.2 rpg.

Artest has shown that he is a legit player, but he is also a very volatile one. However, last season he was a model citizen in Houston and had a great season averaging 17.1 ppg and 5.2 rpg.

Artest gives the Lakers a stacked starting lineup that includes Kobe Bryant (26.8 ppg), Pau Gasol (18.9 ppg 9.6 rpg), Lamar Odom (11.3 ppg 8.2 rpg) and Andrew Bynum (14.3 ppg 8 rpg).

The Clippers have one thing going for them, which is Gasol will probably not play in this game, as he has a strained hamstring.

Bynum is another key for the Lakers, as he has been injured for big chunks in the past 2 seasons and if he is healthy he can be a dominant big man. He will match up with Chris Kaman in this game and that should be an interesting match up. Kaman had a solid season a couple years ago averaging career highs in both points and rebounds, but injuries limited him to only 31 games last season.

With Griffin out the Clippers will have to score a ton of points since their D will suffer without the 6′ 10″ monster in the middle. They will count on Baron Davis, Eric Gordon (16.1 ppg), who was the 7th overall pick in 2008, and 2nd year forward Al Thornton (16.8 ppg 5.2 rpg).

The Clippers not only have to score, but keep the Lakers off the boards. Kaman, Thornton, and Marcus Camby have to control the glass and not give the Lakers too many 2nd chance opportunities.

Kobe will get his points, but when the Lakers lost last season he had big games, but Gasol and Odom were contained. The Clippers can’t stop Kobe, who can, but they can’t let Odom and now Artest score a lot and dominate the glass.

This was supposed to be the big coming out party for Griffin, but we will have to wait to see what the No. 1 pick will do.

This is pretty much the same Clippers team, without Griffin, as last season that was not close to making the playoffs and the same Lakers team, now with Artest, that won the NBA title. The Lakers are 31-9 against the Clippers since both teams moved to the Staples Center.

Jason’s Pick: Even with Griffin the Clippers would be a major underdog and even though Gasol is out for this game the Lakers should dominate both boards and this game. Don’t look for a close game in this opening one, as the Lakers should have no problem covering the spread and winning this game.