Another Battle of LA with Clippers, Lakers

The Lakers vs Clippers will take on the in Arena this Friday as both teams mark their returns from the All-Star break. Neither squad is having the season that it would have hoped to in the offseason, but it is the Clippers who enter the contest one spot above the Lakers in the Western Conference despite having lesser expectations.

For the purple and gold, seemingly nothing has gone right this season. The chemistry experiment that was integrating Russell Westbrook to a team already devoid of three-point shooting has not panned out that well, to put it nicely. Things have gotten so bad in L.A. that reports are circulating that LeBron James was upset that Westbrook was not traded to the Houston Rockets in a deal for John Wall, which would, ironically, be the second time that the two were swapped for each other. 

Anthony Davis is out injured as it seems he usually is, this time with an ankle problem that he suffered in L.A.’s dramatic comeback win against the Utah Jazz prior to the All-Star break. This will leave LeBron and Westbrook— and Malik Monk, to a lesser extent— to do most of the heavy lifting for at least the next month. 

On the flip side, the Clippers have been without Kawhi Leonard the entire season and Paul George for most of it, but that did not stop them from embarrassing the Lakers with a last-second game-winning shot when they met a few weeks ago. Reggie Jackson skipped his way down the court like Hot Sauce in Rucker Park before flipping up a shot that even drew praise from LeBron himself on Twitter — can anybody say “tampering?”

The Lakers are the eighth-worst team against the spread this season, with a mark of 26-32; the Clippers are a slightly better 30-31 but also top half in the league in this respect. Even though both teams are playing in the arena they call their home, the purple and gold are obviously the unofficial home team because of their fanbase; the Lakers are 13-18 ATS at home this season, while the Clippers are 16-14.

The official betting spread for Friday’s night has not been released by online sportsbooks, but it can be expected that there will be a thin margin either way. Contrary to popular belief, the Clippers have dominated the Lakers in recent years, and they have a tougher mentality that seems to push the buttons of the Lakers’ superstars. 

The Lakers desperately need a win to set the tone for a run into the playoffs, but they have not shown any signs of making long-term change throughout the course of this season. It is almost unfathomable that a team with their talent level can be as bad as these guys are, but that is the case — so when the spread becomes available, and as long as they are not huge favorites, the Clippers have to be considered the better bet in the impending contest.

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