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NBA Team Focus: Los Angeles Clippers

Clippers Paul Griffin

After a mediocre 16-13 start to the season, it looks like the Los Angeles Clippers might finally be getting their act together. The Clippers have been on a run since Christmas day that’s seen them win seven straight games SU and six out of seven ATS. They’ve been scoring in bunches during the streak, averaging 109.5 points per game with a winning margin of 12.1 points.

So, what’s the cause of the sudden surge, and should they still be considered among the elite in the Western Conference? The solution for the Clippers might have simply been to get out of Los Angeles as six of their seven wins during the current streak have come on the road. Since November 7th, the Clippers have gone 8-6 at STAPLES Center, which fails in comparison to other Western Conference powerhouses the Spurs and Warriors, who both remain undefeated on their home courts.

The bad news for Clippers fans and their backers is that the team’s recent success might be somewhat of a mirage. The teams they’ve beaten during their current streak have a combined .362 win percentage. To put that in perspective, the 12-23 Denver Nuggets have a .361 win percentage.

So, the Clippers are good at beating up on bad teams—so what? Well, the Clippers are a drastically different team when playing other Western Conference teams currently in position for a playoff spot, posting a 3-8 record. This includes being 0-4 vs the three teams currently ahead of them in the standings—the Warriors, Spurs and Thunder.

The Clippers’ 16-18-2 ATS record has left a lot to be desired, as bettors can’t quite figure them out. They’re a top seven team in the league in terms of average scoring margin, but things change in the final frame, as they rank 25th in the league in fourth quarter scoring margin. The poor play in the fourth quarter is hurting the Clippers at the betting window, as they’ve developed a bad habit of letting teams close the gap in the fourth quarter, resulting in blown spreads. The last three times they won a game SU but failed to cover, they were outscored by an average of 12.3 points in the fourth quarter.

With the Warriors, Spurs and even the Thunder well positioned to make a championship run, any type of long term wager on the Clippers seems like a scary proposition. Even at +1000 to win the Western Conference and +1600 to win the NBA Finals, the Clippers don’t appear to offer much value as they haven’t put up much of a fight vs top tier teams.

January should be an interesting month for the Clippers with a five-game home stand on tap, followed by a five-game East Coast road trip. They should face some relatively large spreads at home with the likes of the Hornets, Pelicans and Kings coming to town, while a January 21st game in Cleveland will give them another opportunity to prove themselves against an elite team.

With their inability to properly close out games, a bet on the Clippers might be one to shy away from, and with the gap widening between them and the NBA's top teams, their championship window is close to getting slammed shut.

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