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The Los Angeles Lakers (0-1) meet the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday at the Crypto.com Arena as part of an NBA on TNT primetime doubleheader.
There’s no way for me to prove my biggest factor because he never talks but Kawhi Leonard hates LeBron James. Or at least Kawhi gets up to face LeBron.
Kawhi’s teams are 9-5 straight up (SU) vs. LeBron’s teams in their careers. Leonard is outscoring (24.3-23.6 points per game) and outshooting LeBron (46.8-45.4% from the field) in those games.
More importantly, the Clippers are a MUCH deeper team and embody the little brother angst that defines this non-rivalry.
Betting Details (DraftKings)
- Moneyline: Clippers (-215), Lakers (+185)
- Against the spread (ATS): CLIPPERS -5.5 (-110), Lakers +5.5 (-110)
- Total (O/U) — 225.5 — O: -110, U: -110
The bottom line is these are two teams heading in opposite directions. The Clippers are one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals and the Lakers are most likely a play-in seed based on my projections.
Also, the Clippers have peak motivation when facing the Lakers because they are the little brothers of LA. Lakers fans outnumber Clippers fans whenever they meet even though this “rivalry” has been all Clippers over the last 10 seasons.
The Clippers are 32-9 SU (+10.7 margin of victory) and 26-15 ATS (+4.0 ATS differential) over the last 10 seasons. Since Kawhi and Paul George joined the Clippers in 2019, they are 9-3 SU and 8-4 ATS (+6.1 ATS differential) vs. the Lakers.
LeBron and Anthony Davis already got a title (albeit a bubble title) and the Clippers have yet to make an NBA Finals since signing Kawhi and PG.
There are fair questions the Clippers have to answer about their durability but they are the most well-constructed team. The Clippers set NBA records for 3-point (41.1%) and free-throw shooting (83.9%) percentages in the last season both Kawhi and PG were healthy (2019-20).
On the other hand, the Lakers have one of the worst rosters in the NBA outside of LeBron and AD. The Lakers have no shooting and no continuity. Two of the Lakers’ starting 5 would be coming off the bench for most teams and the Russell Westbrook thing is a disaster.
The Clippers are one of the deepest teams in the NBA and the Lakers are not. They were 2nd last season in bench points per game and they got deeper mid-season by trading for wings Norman Powell and Robert Covington.
Obviously, the return of Kawhi makes the Clippers even deeper and gives them a lopsided edge against the Lakers. I.e. the Clippers have the best player on the floor and it’s Kawhi Leonard.
BET: Clippers -5.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -6
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