The Daily Sweat: Should bettors trust Clippers with their backs against the wall?

·6 min read

The Los Angeles Clippers’ backs are against the wall. The last time they were in this situation, they did not respond particularly well.

In last year’s NBA Playoffs in the bubble down in Orlando, the Clippers jumped out to a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals, only to lose three straight to the Denver Nuggets. In Game 6 and Game 7 of that series, the Clippers lost in blowout fashion when they had a chance to move on to the conference finals. It was a meltdown that caused all sorts of changes entering the 2021 season.

Fast-forward almost a year later and the Clippers find themselves in a similarly precarious spot: down 2-0 to the Dallas Mavericks, this time in the first round. The Clippers lost both games at home, finding no answers as Luka Doncic carved up their porous defense.

The Clippers were favored by six points in Game 1 and seven points in Game 2 and lost both outright. Now, as the series heads to Dallas, the Clippers are modest two-point favorites at BetMGM with the total set at 219.5.

There are two ways bettors can look at this game.

You’re getting the Clippers, a team with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, at a great number. Leonard and George combined for 49 points in Game 1 and then put up a ridiculous 69 points in Game 2. They’re definitely going to get back in the series, right?

At the same time, why should you trust the Clippers? The supporting cast beyond Leonard and George hasn’t been able to bring enough to the table. You can get Dallas as an underdog yet again, including at +110 on the moneyline. Why should you overthink it?

Friday night’s game marks just the 10th time this season that the Mavericks are home underdogs. In the nine other games, the Mavs are 5-4 against the spread. A trend that’s more worth noting: the under is 1-8 in those games. Maybe that’s the best side to pursue in this one.

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic is guarded by Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard.
Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers had no answer for Luka Doncic. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Who will take control in Hawks-Knicks series?

The New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks split the two games in New York City, sending the series south with it tied at 1-1. Much like the first two games, the home team is the favorite in Game 3. This time, it’s the Hawks -4 with the total set at 211.5.

In Game 1, the Hawks won outright as an underdog before the Knicks covered as a small favorite in Game 2. The Hawks have been excellent as a home favorite this season, posting a 16-7 ATS record. The Knicks are 17-9 ATS as a road underdog.

While those trends contradict, the under is 16-7 when the Hawks are a home favorite and 16-10 when the Knicks are a road underdog. The first two games in the series landed under the total, so the under could be a trend worth tailing.

Will the Celtics show any fight?

The Boston Celtics return home trailing the Brooklyn Nets 0-2. The Celtics were 8.5-point underdogs in Game 1 and lost by 11. They were 9-point underdogs in Game 2 and lost by 22. Despite the presence of the home crowd, the Celtics are 7.5-point dogs in Game 3 with the total set at 227.5.

Can the Celtics get back in the series? The way the Nets trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden played in Game 2, it’s tough to have any confidence in Boston. Boston has been one of the NBA’s most disappointing teams this season, but it would still be a surprise to see them completely fold. But as we saw in Game 1, the Celtics can play neck and neck for almost the entire game, only to see the more talented Nets pull away late and cover the spread.

The Nets have covered the spread in five of their last seven games as a road favorite, though only one of those point spreads has been as large as 7.5 points.

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving drives around Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart.
The Celtics are looking to bounce back against the Nets after falling behind 2-0 in the series. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Who cashed tickets on Thursday?

The Milwaukee Bucks beat up on the Miami Heat once again to increase their series lead to 3-0. The Bucks were only two-point favorites, but won 113-84. And because of Miami's inept offensive showing, the game stayed well under the total of 224.5.

In the West, the Los Angeles Lakers took a 2-1 series lead over the Phoenix Suns with a 109-95 victory, easily covering the seven-point spread. The game stayed under the total of 211.5. In the other Western Conference game, the Denver Nuggets won outright as four-point underdogs on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers to take a 2-1 series edge. The 120-115 decision was also a win for over bettors. 

In the NHL Playoffs, Montreal went on the road to Toronto and kept their season alive with a 4-3 overtime win. The Canadiens had +200 odds at BetMGM. The Maple Leafs still lead the series 3-2 as it heads back to Montreal for Game 6. On the other side of the bracket, the Carolina Hurricanes advanced to the second round thanks to a 4-3 overtime win over the Nashville Predators. The Hurricanes, who were -152 on the moneyline, will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 2. 

In baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers' recent domination of NL West rival San Francisco Giants continued with a 4-3 win. The Giants are 14-6 in the month of May against teams other than the Dodgers. Against the Dodgers, they are 0-4. With the San Diego Padres (32-19), Dodgers (31-19) and Giants (30-20), three of the best records in baseball are in the NL West. 

What are we betting on today?

I'm on the Nets to cover the 7.5 points against the Celtics. Without Jaylen Brown, I don't think Boston has the offensive firepower to stick with Brooklyn over the course of four quarters. It won't be a blowout like Game 1 was, but I think the Nets will pull away late in the fourth and win by 10-12 points and take a 3-0 series lead. 

I'm also leaning toward the under 219.5 in the Clippers-Mavs game. The Mavericks shot lights out from deep in the first two games of the series. Even though it's a home game for Dallas, it'll be hard to keep up that hot shooting. Plus, the Clippers have to increase their intensity on the defensive end to have any chance to get back in this series. 

In baseball, I'm taking the Kansas City Royals on the moneyline +140 on the road against the Minnesota Twins. I know the Twins have won six of seven, but I like this pitching matchup with lefty Kris Bubic on the hill for Kansas City. He has allowed just two earned runs in 21.2 innings since moving into the rotation. KC had an 11-game losing streak earlier in May, but has been playing much better lately. I think +140 is good value here. 

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