The Pick: Clippers 100-95
Any game a home team is a significant underdog deserves a look, especially when the favorite is battling injuries and inconsistent play. The Clippers have lost three of their last four games and are in the midst of a seven-game road trip, a tough combination for a team that is lacking the scoring depth that they relied on greatly from J.J. Redick and Matt Barnes.
The 76ers aren’t exactly lighting the world on fire like they did early in the year (they’ve lost six of their last seven), but they are much better at home (6-6 as opposed to 1-8 on the road) and are a young team playing without many expectations.
Philadelphia’s main defensive flaw is the inability to prevent opponents from making 3-pointers (league-high 10 per night), but the Clippers are the 10th worst 3-point shooting team, a number that is on the decline without Redick in the lineup. The Clippers don’t feel like a title contender right now on the defensive end, so the fact that they are scoring 10 fewer points per game in December than they average for the season is concerning when it comes to covering a big number.
On the offensive side, the 76ers do a few things well. Spencer Hawes figures to be a tough matchup, as the Clippers’ Blake Griffin isn’t a patient defender and DeAndre Jordan won’t venture much out of the paint. Hawes paces a starting lineup that has four players averaging at least 5.8 rebounds and ranks fifth in total rebounds.
For a young team, the 76ers also take reasonably good care of the ball, ranking in the top-10 in turnover differential (the Clippers rank 20th). Tony Wroten is shooting at a Jamal Crawford-esque frequency, giving the 76ers a reserve that can keep the game close or a point producer should Michael Carter-Williams miss his third straight game with a knee infection.
I’m not saying Philadelphia is in position to win this game, but they compete for 48 minutes, and that may be enough to cover this spread against a Clippers team will straighten things out but is struggling right now.
Fun Fact: Wroten has made just one 3-pointer over the last three weeks, but that hasn’t slowed him down from shooting at an insane rate. In fact, his shot attempts per minute has risen over those three weeks.
Sixers tickets are available for tonight’s game so make sure to grab some now if you’re looking to head to the game before inventory runs out.