In Sunday's game notes, I mentioned the Clippers’ inability to defend the rim, and how that might work against them in their game with New Orleans. Lo and behold, the Pelicans torched them inside with a 26-of-31 (83.9%!) performance at the rim and 72 points in the paint. Los Angeles ranks in the bottom half of the league in many metrics tied to interior defense, and every bit of that showed up last night. Just look at the lack of resistance Zion Williamson faced last night.
Now, Serge Ibaka was lost to injury after playing just eight minutes, but with him on the floor this season the Clippers still allow opponents to shoot 65.8% at the rim. We’re now at the point of the season where these defensive issues are no longer just anomalies. I have brought up the tracking numbers for Los Angeles, but at some point, poor defense is just poor defense. Last night, the 22nd-ranked defense gave up 1.324 points per possession and got lit up in the paint. There is no other way to spin it.
The Clippers are now 1-4 SU and ATS in their last five games, and have not covered consecutive contests since Feb. 15 in a game against Miami. There has been a part of me that sees the statistical profile of this team, especially on offense, and believes there is more than meets the eye. However, Los Angeles has shown us nothing tangible to believe it can put it all together when it matters.
Updated injury reports can be found here.
Updated odds for every game can be found here.
*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back.
The Main Event
New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets (-7.5, 225)
Brooklyn maintained their winning ways against Detroit on Saturday, escaping with a 100-95 victory to improve to 12-1 SU/11-2 ATS in its last 13 games. Bettors really saw an adjustment on the power rating for the Nets in that contest, as they closed laying 11.5 points against a Pistons team they lost to back on Feb. 9 as a 5.5-point favorite. Tonight, they will face a Knicks team that is a fantastic regression candidate and showed so a few days ago against Milwaukee when they were blown out 134-101 on the road. New York did bounce back from that loss by beating up on Oklahoma City on Saturday, limiting the Thunder to 0.978 points per possession and 8-of-27 from beyond the arc, but will they be able to contain an offense at the level of Brooklyn’s?