The Los Angeles Clippers are a legitimate threat to win the NBA Finals — if they can stay healthy and build some chemistry, that is.
Kawhi Leonard is playing his best basketball in years but he isn't playing in the second half of a back-to-back, and Paul George is ruled out to rest his ailing hamstring. So, it’s no surprise that the Clippers are sizeable underdogs as they head to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz come into this one having won three of their last four straight up and five of their last seven against the spread. Can they cover the chalk against a potentially very shorthanded Clippers squad?
I break down this Western Conference matchup and bring you my best bet in NBA picks and predictions for the Clippers vs. Jazz.
Clippers vs Jazz best odds
Clippers vs Jazz picks and predictions
Kawhi Leonard has played in a season-high five straight games for the Clippers, so there was some speculation he might finally play his first back-to-back of the season. But alas, it was not meant to be, as he’ll sit this one out.
That means the Clippers could potentially be without Leonard, Paul George, John Wall, and Luke Kennard, while even Ivica Zubac is questionable for this matchup. That leaves just a couple of guys who can reliably get buckets for the Clippers.
It’s not like this offense has been playing great, to begin with, either. The Clippers rank 27th in offensive rating and 29th in scoring offense, at 109.4 points per game, and you can bet that gets worse when Leonard and George are out of the lineup.
L.A. has played nine games this season where it has been without its two superstars. In those nine games, the Clippers have averaged just 106.1 points and have been held below 107 points five times.
One of those nine games came against the Jazz back on Nov. 30, and while the Clippers managed to put up 112 points, they shot just 40% from the floor and 33% from 3-point range.
While the Jazz aren’t the greatest defensive team, they are catching the Clippers in a bad spot. They are playing their second game in as many nights, at elevation, and without their best two players. I’m betting the Clippers fall below their team total in this one.
My best bet: Clippers team total Under 110.5 (-115 at DraftKings)
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Clippers vs Jazz spread analysis
Even though there was some speculation that Leonard might play in this game, sportsbooks weren’t buying it. They opened the Clippers as 6.5-point road underdogs with no Paul George and once Leonard was confirmed to be out, the line shifted to Utah -8.
That makes sense because in that Nov. 30 meeting, when Leonard and George also didn’t play, the Clippers closed as 7-point road dogs in a game that the Jazz ended up winning that game 125-112.
Covering spreads has been an issue without Leonard and George, with the team going 2-7 ATS in the nine games the Clippers have played without them.
Another problem for the Clippers will be trying to slow down a Jazz offense that is really rolling of late. Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson have both upped their games and Utah ranks sixth in the NBA in offensive rating over the last 10 games.
I don’t see how this version of the Clippers can keep up with the Jazz in this matchup. I would lean toward the home team here.
Clippers vs Jazz Over/Under analysis
Since I’m backing the Clippers to have a low-scoring game, I’m inclined to lean toward the full-game Under as well. The total hit the board at 227.5, got as high as 229, and has only dropped down to 228.5 as of Wednesday afternoon.
While sportsbooks made the adjustment to the spread when Leonard was ruled out, the same can’t be said for the total. Which means there is still some value on the Under.
If there is one thing to like about the Clippers, despite not having their two best players, it’s the effort they still put in at the defensive end of the floor. This team has certainly gotten used to playing without these guys, yet they still rank sixth in the NBA when it comes to defensive rating and fifth in opponent field goal percentage.
The Clippers' perfect combination of bad offense and solid defense lends perfectly to the Under at this number.
Clippers vs Jazz betting trend to know
The Under is 4-1 in the Clippers' last five games overall. Find more NBA betting trends for Clippers vs. Jazz.
Clippers vs Jazz game info
|Location:||Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, UT|
|Date:||Wednesday, January 18, 2023|
|Tip-off:||9:00 p.m. ET|
|TV:||Bally Sports West, AT&T SportsNet|