Celtics vs Clippers – NBA Pick for January 24th
- Spread: Clippers -1.5
The Celtics may have a pair of All-Stars this season, but they’ve been struggling mightily of late. Boston enters Wednesday’s tilt with the Clippers having lost each of their last 4 games, including a 1-point loss in L.A. to the Lakers last night. Prior to the current skid, however, the Celts had won 7 straight.
Despite the struggles, Boston remains atop the Eastern Conference, a game-and-a-half ahead of the Toronto Raptors. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, have fallen to 6 games behind the Celtics.
While the wins may not be coming, Kyrie Irving hasn’t been to blame. One of Boston’s All-Star representatives is enjoying a stellar first season in Celtics green. In 38 minutes last night, Irving scored a game-high 33 points on 13-24 shooting from the field. He also contributed 4 assists and 3 boards. That effort followed up the 40-point monster outing in the loss to the Magic earlier this week.
One thing to watch with this team is the play of Jayson Tatum. Tatum has put himself squarely in the Rookie of the Year race, but the former Duke Blue Devil may have hit a bit of a rookie wall here of late. Over his last 5 games, Tatum is averaging just 10 points and 5.6 rebounds on ugly 40 percent shooting from the field. On the season, the rook is shooting nearly 49 percent and averaging 13.5 points.
Tatum made just 1 of his 6 shots last night against the Lakers, and it marked the second consecutive game in which he’s finished with less than 10 points. One would imagine he’s looking forward to the upcoming All-Star break so he can charge the batteries a bit.
With Tatum struggling, the Celts are going to need some of their other wings to pick up the slack. That means Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. Brown was essentially a non-factor against the Lakers, but Smart and Rozier combined to score 31 points off the bench.
The Celtics will be on the second half of a back-to-back, while the Clippers haven’t played since losing to the Timberwolves on Monday night. Despite a rash of injuries, Doc Rivers somehow has the Clips in the thick of the playoff race. LAC is at 23-23 on the season, which is a half-game back of the Nuggets for the last playoff spot.
He hasn’t drawn many headlines this season, but Blake Griffin has been in fine form since returning from his knee injury. Over his last 5 games, the former No. 1 overall pick is averaging 23.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game on 51 percent shooting from the floor. His three-point stroke hasn’t quite been there, but he’s contributed in enough areas to help make up for that shortcoming.
He’s been forced to hit the glass more without DeAndre Jordan, who is doubtful to play again tonight with a sprained ankle. Griffin’s average of 9.2 boards over his last 5 games is up from his season-long average of 7.9.
Look for Lou Williams to come out aggressive tonight, as always. Lou typically plays with a chip on his shoulder, but he’ll have extra fire in his eyes tonight after being snubbed from the All-Star team on Tuesday evening. Williams certainly has a case, but the field of players in the West is loaded. Still, the veteran is averaging a career-high 23.3 points and 5.1 assists per game. He’s essentially carried the Clippers on his back over the last few months and should be rewarded for his efforts.
It’s a little jarring to see the Clippers listed as favorites over the Celtics, but it makes sense. LAC has been playing well of late, while Boston has hit the skids. Still, there’s excellent value on the Celtics to right the ship tonight. We aren’t convinced it’ll happen, but at +105 on the moneyline they make for a very solid underdog bet.
All signs point to the Clippers coming out on top here, but this is the kind of game this team has been losing for years.