Lakers vs. Clippers NBA Preview and Best Bet

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Markieff Morris #88 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Ivica Zubac #40 of the Los Angeles Clippers fight for the rebound. Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images/AFP

In what could very well be a playoff preview, the Lakers and Clippers are set to do battle tonight from Staples Center. With LeBron James ruled out for this one, should we back the Clippers, or will the Lakers show up with their backs against the wall?

Los Angeles Lakers vs. LA Clippers

Thursday, May 06, 2021 – 10:00 PM EDT at Staples Center

Who Needs A Win the Most?

At this point in the NBA season, with tanking and playoff positioning becoming more set by the day, motivation comes into play when handicapping any game. For these two playoff-bound teams, it comes down to two things tonight; a rivalry between the two teams and who wants to win this game the most.

If the Clippers win this one, it will help pole-vault them back into the third seed, while a loss would send the Lakers back closer to play-in game territory.

On the other side, a loss here for the Clippers would keep them in the four seed after the Nuggets’ win last night, while it would also keep the Lakers another step closer to avoiding the play-in tournament, something I’m sure LeBron James is telling his teammates from the sidelines in this one.

However, with the NBA Oddsmakers laying eight points with the Clippers here, it’s pretty evident that they have the upper hand. Nevertheless, there is still some value to be had in these NBA Odds, I just think the total has more value than the spread here.

The Sharp Pick

With James out, as well as Dennis Schroder, the Lakers’ offense is missing a ton of points here tonight. Along with those two already ruled out, the Lakers could be without one of their best young players in Talen Horton-Tucker, who is officially questionable.

If Horton-Tucker sits this one out with James, that’s a lot of forward depth gone for the Lakers, which is bad news against Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. With that much offense missing, I think there is still some room for value here in the total of 212.5.

The Clippers have cashed the under in six straight and nine of their last 10. Considering this will be a playoff-style game for both of these teams, the winning team may not have more than 104 or 105 points here. Combined with the Lakers missing pieces and cashing the under in three of their last four as well, the under seems to be the play here.

Over their last 10 games, the Clippers rank in the top 10 in defensive rating and at home, the Lakers own the second-best defensive rating in the league from Staples Center. Considering this is a home game for both clubs and considering the playoff implications, I expect their best defensive effort after they both got to sleep in their own beds last night.

Along with the hopefully well-rested teams, these two have both been bears defensively in divisional games this season. Both teams are a combined 13-8 cashing the under in games against divisional opponents, and for the Clippers, they are allowing less than 104 points per game in those contests and allowing just 105.7 points per 100 possessions against the Pacific.

My Pick: Total UNDER 212.5 at Bookmaker