The NBA is Back! Greg Frank picks Clippers vs Lakers and has thoughts about the over/under
Clippers (+5) @ Lakers (219)
Pick: Under 219
The NBA restarts its regular season tonight in the Orlando bubble and the second of two nationally televised games could be a Western Conference Finals preview. The Clippers take on the Lakers and there seems to be strong support for the over in this one as the total has been bet up about three points depending on where you shop. We’ve also seen considerable movement on the side here as the game opened at pick ‘em and has now drifted all the way out to the Lakers laying five. I don’t have much of a feel for the side, but I particularly disagree with the move on the total. There have been plenty of abnormal occurrences in 2020 so it may be difficult to look back at anything that happened in the NBA before the season was suspended given it was four and a half months ago. However, the lockout shortened season in 2011-2012 might give us some idea of what to expect early on. Offensive statistics leaguewide hit historic lows, as Jason McIntyre of Fox Sports writes here, and there might be a parallel to today’s situation here. During a work stoppage, it can be difficult for players to stay motivated and get shots up without knowing when or if they’re going to play meaningful games. Sure enough, in the first two weeks of the NBA season in 2011-2012, unders cashed at a 60% clip.
This wasn’t a lockout, but it might have a similar impact. Milwaukee’s Khris Middelton said earlier in July that he went 2-3 months without touching a basketball during the shutdown. I’m guessing he’s not alone. Barring a cataclysmic collapse, the Lakers are going to be the top seed in the West. The Clippers are a part of the seeding logjam in the West that sees the next six teams separated by 5.5 games. But remember, without fans or travel in the equation now, does seeding even matter? The Clippers didn’t seem to care about seeding prior to the shutdown anyway and had no issue managing Kawhi Leonard’s load the way the Raptors did last season. We’re guessing these games are going to be more about figuring out the bottoms of rotations for playoff locks like the Clippers and Lakers and slowly ramping up their stars to playoff workloads before the postseason begins in a couple weeks. All of that makes us like the second game under the total tonight.