While the world, including me, fawns over the recent run of success for the Denver Nuggets, there is another team quietly finding its identity. After a strong 113-103 win over Phoenix on Thursday night, the Los Angeles Clippers improved to 11-4 SU and ATS since the All-Star break, and their defense stole the show once again.
The Clippers limited the Suns to just 1.093 points per possession in the second half and improved their second-half defensive rating to 107.9 per 100 possessions. Los Angeles has been the fifth-best defensive team in the league since the break, and all the while their offense continues to be lethal.
Los Angeles is the best shooting team in the league, and that showed up in a big way yesterday. The Clippers went 18-of-35 from deep against the Suns, and Kawhi Leonard was dominant in the third quarter against Phoenix, scoring 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting while helping the Clippers score 1.318 points per possession. He even gave us this spectacular dunk over DeAndre Ayton.
The Clippers have been a largely inconsistent team all season long, but the stretches of competence show us how good this team can really be. If this turnaround on defense is legit the league needs to be on notice.
Updated injury reports can be found here.
Updated odds for every game can be found here.
*Indicates team is on second leg of a back-to-back
The Main Event
Chicago Bulls* at Atlanta Hawks (-3, 227.5)
Slowly but surely the Chicago Bulls are starting to take the shape of a playoff team. Since acquiring Nikola Vucevic the Bulls are only 3-4 SU but 5-2 ATS, and in their last five games they are a perfect 5-0 ATS with a 117.2 offensive rating. Their starting lineup of Tomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, Thaddeus Young and Vucevic are %plussign.0 in 128 possessions together, according to Cleaning The Glass. It is an extremely small sample size, but that paired with the results show the beginnings of something positive in the Windy City.