NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors Predictions, Betting Picks & Preview

Blake GriffinThe 35-21 Los Angeles Clippers visit the 47-9 Golden State Warriors tonight on opening night of the post-All Star break portion of the NBA season (10:30 p.m. ET Thursday). Los Angeles has started to find its stride without star point guard Chris Paul as of late, and the Warriors keep on cruising with their league-best record.

Paul may actually play for the first time in five weeks. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said CP3’s thumb injury has been medically cleared and looks good in practice.

Golden State is a team that is nearly unbeatable when it brings maximum effort and focus, which it has in three meetings so far with the Clippers. The Warriors are 3-0 with an average margin of victory of 25.3 points against their Western Conference team.

So here this preview pinpoints the factors that could decide which way this game falls, ending as always with our betting predictions and picks. We also identify the best odds to go with from the top online betting sites for American players.

Will Chris Paul Play?

Point guards are especially important to NBA teams in today’s league. They’re frequently the focal point of their squad’s offensive attack and are relied on for a lot of scoring and playmaking.

Los Angeles has arguably the best all-around floor general in the business in Paul. Not only does he anchor the offense with his cerebral play, but he is an excellent defender. The Clippers’ record falls from 27-9 to 8-12 when CP3 is injured, and the team is a whopping 19.5 points per 100 possessions better when he plays compared to when he doesn’t.

So it’s pretty obvious that Los Angeles’ chances today are very dependent on their superstar point guard playing. Even if CP3 isn’t 100 percent, he brings a calming presence to the starting lineup.

Will the Warriors Come Out With Good Energy?

Perhaps no team brings a wider gap of energy and focus from game to game (or even quarter to quarter) than the Warriors. They have the capability of blowing out almost every opponent, but they don’t always do so. It’s hard to blame them for this based on what happened in last year’s Finals in the playoffs after a dominant regular season, but it’s still something that happens.

Golden State is at home playing against a team that is talented, but may be without its best player. The Warriors have an opportunity to set the tone by opening up a huge lead in the opening quarter, or they could let Los Angeles jump on them early and have to play from behind.

Considering the Clippers and Warriors are rivals, the chances of Golden State playing hard are strong on Thursday.

Can Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan Impose Their Will on the Warriors’ Bigs?

Golden State is not terribly strong at the power forward and center positions, at least compared to the Clippers. Draymond Green is a fabulous two-way 4, but he and Zaza Pachulia, David West and JaVale McGee is not a great group overall.

Pachulia and West, in particular, are questionable for tonight’s game. If they are out or limited, Blake Griffin (pictured) and DeAndre Jordan have the potential to wreak some real havoc on the Warriors, especially when Green is on the bench.

Even if Paul plays, Los Angeles would be wise to get Griffin and Jordan a lot of touches and get them going against a relatively weak frontcourt for Golden State.

Our Preview’s Los Angeles Clippers vs Golden State Warriors Betting Picks & Predictions

The Warriors have not lost a home game since January 6, when they blew a 24-point lead to the Memphis Grizzlies and fell in overtime. In that span, every win has also been by more than 12 points. Golden State seems to make a more concerted effort to maximize their potential when it plays at Oracle Arena.

Even if Chris Paul plays, he’ll have a tough time re-asserting himself well enough to topple the mighty Warriors. Here are our preview’s predictions and betting picks:

  • The sportsbooks have the Warriors favored by 12 to 12.5 points. Golden State hasn’t lost a home game by fewer than that many points in a month and a half, and I don’t expect them to do so here. Take the Warriors -12pts @ -110 with MyBookie. That spread is -112 with Bookmaker and it is -12.5pts for -110 with BetOnline.
  • The most common over-under for this matchup is 230.5pts. This is high but I’m still advising the over here @ -110 with MyBookie or Bookmaker. It is -115 with BetOnline. Golden State should sprint out to a lead, especially if Paul doesn’t play, and then the game might speed up. This will create more possessions and, in turn, more points.
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