Things went south for the Clippers faster than Michael Douglas in Basic Instinct. Los Angeles started the post Chris Paul era off by winning and covering in each of its first four games, but a series of injuries to the backcourt is torpedoing the club.
Point guard Patrick Beverly is out with a banged up right knee and his backup Milos Teodosic is out long-term with plantar fascia. The Clippers have been forced to get creative with their guard rotation with Beverly and Teodosic out of the picture. Austin Rivers and Sindarius Thornwell – a rookie second round pick – are starting with Lou Williams coming off the bench playing starter minutes.
Saturday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans was the Clippers’ fifth straight defeat and frustrations boiled over with Austin Rivers and coaches Sam Cassell and Doc Rivers all picking up technical fouls in the second half.
Pick: 76ers +2
One of the many things to love about LeBron James is that he holds grudges. About a year ago James let it be known he was not happy about a comment Phil Jackson made his inner circle. Jackson used the term “posse” when referring to James’ entourage – a term LBJ thought was coded language.
Flash forward to Saturday night. The Cavs beat the Mavericks in Dallas and after the game James was asked about Mavs rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr.
“The Knicks passed on a really good one, and Dallas got the diamond in the rough,” James told reporters. “[Smith] should be a Knick.”
The Knicks, of course, took French point guard Frank Ntilikina with the eighth pick and Dallas took Smith Jr. with the ninth pick. Ntilikina was the last big roster decision made by Jackson before he and the Knicks parted ways.
Smith is enjoying a strong start to his first season while Ntilikina is looking pretty good in a more limited role with New York. Knicks big man Enes Kanter took to Twitter in response to LeBron’s comment:
We expect New York to respond on the court as well.
Pick: Knicks +5
Yesterday’s picks: 0-2
Season record: 24-28
*The under is 4-0 in the Wizards’ last four games overall.
*The over is 6-1 in Atlanta’s last seven games.
*The under is 5-0 in Minnesota’s last five games.
*The over is 6-1 in the 76ers’ last seven games.
*The over is 6-0 in the last six meetings between the Lakers and Suns.
Injury to Watch
Golden Start point guard Steph Curry is questionable to play Monday night against the Orland Magic because of a thigh contusion. The Warriors are still 13-point favorites. The Dubs went 2-1 straight up and 1-2 against the spread without the two-time MVP in the lineup last season.
*The Kings are 0-5-1 ATS in their last six road games.
*The Pelicans are 5-0 ATS in their last five games overall.
*The Blazers’ are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games overall.
*The Warriors are 6-0 ATS in their last six games.
*The Clippers are 0-5 ATS in their last five games overall.
Ref to Watch
The 76ers are 0-10 straight up and 2-8 against the spread in the last 10 games worked by NBA ref Zach Zarba. He’s the head official in tonight’s crew working the 76ers-Clippers game.
Close to 75 percent of Covers contest players like the Portland Trail Blazers to cover as 1-point home underdogs tonight against the Denver Nuggets. Here’s the rest of today’s NBA consensus picks.