The Pick: 103-92
The Wizards lost an overtime battle in Atlanta last night, coming back from a ten-point fourth quarter hole before being beaten at the buzzer by an Al Horford 11-foot jumper. The Clippers, on the other hand, enjoyed a night off after an emotional back-to-back that saw Doc Rivers first coach in the city that loved him and then against the players who fought for him. Los Angeles looked about as flat as they could have on the second night, so the night off to regroup and refocus should pay great dividends.
Talent-wise, the Clippers are simply the better team. John Wall has shown great improvement this year, but he won’t be the best point guard on the court. Marcin Gortat has been a nice edition (leading the team in rebounds, blocks, and shooting percentage), but athletic bigs have been a problem for him (in addition to hitting the game-winner, Horford finished last night’s game with 34 points and 15 rebounds) and there might not be a more athletic center than DeAndre Jordan. The injury to Bradley Beal has forced Martell Webster into the starting unit, thus depleting the bench of their primary scorer (the reserves combined for 25 points in 75 minutes of action: Jamal Crawford averages 16 points in 27 minutes by himself off the bench). As far as team averages go, the Wizards average 23.5 assists (Clippers: 23.6), 42.4 rebounds (Clippers: 42.9), and 98.1 points (Clippers: 103.3). Those small differences figure to add up to a large enough advantage for the rested Clippers to cover this line.
The Clippers are one of four teams to rank in the top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency (the other three teams have a combined winning percentage of .788) while the Wizards rank behind the New York Knicks in offensive efficiency. If you’re like me and assume that the Clippers will win this game, covering the spread shouldn’t be an issue. The Clippers’ 15 wins have come by an average of 11.4 points while the Wizards are 0-4 against upper echelon teams, losing by an average of 11 points.
Fun Fact: The Wizards have as many players ranked in the top 80 in terms of player efficiency as the Clippers have inside the top ten.