The Los Angeles Clippers (16-5) host the Indiana Pacers (9-10) tonight in a matchup between two squads hoping to stay near the top of their conferences (9.35pm ET Sunday). So far, the Clippers have had much more success doing so.
However, the teams have played once already in Indianapolis, and the Pacers won going away by a score of 91-70. That was with Indiana missing Paul George, as well. A lot of things would have to go the Pacers’ way for a similar result to happen Sunday.
Our preview highlights the main storylines that could dictate how this game goes and then conclude with our betting predictions and picks.
Will Paul George Be Affected By His Ankle?
George has missed six of the Pacers’ last seven games due to an ankle injury. He does expect to play Sunday against Los Angeles. However, don’t expect PG-13 to be at full strength against the Clippers. First of all, he’s shot 19-of-56 from the field (33.9 percent) in his last three contests, so he hasn’t exactly been lighting up opponents recently.
But second, Indiana’s best player will be facing an defensively excellent Clippers squad that will likely put defensive specialist Luc Mbah a Moute (pictured) on him for most of his minutes. Mbah a Moute is strong, fundamentally sound and has a knack for forcing contested jumpers, a type of shot that George takes all too often. On the season, opponents are shooting just 39.6 percent on shots he defends.
All that to say, George can get very hot from the field, and it doesn’t really matter how much the defense contests his shots. That might be a little bit tougher to come by with his injury situation, though.
Who Wins the Myles Turner / DeAndre Jordan Matchup?
Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis are getting most of the hype from the 2015 draft class of big men, but the Pacers’ Myles Turner has been excellent, too.
Turner is averaging 14.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in a mere 28.6 minutes per game, also shooting 53.7 percent from the field and 80.8 percent from the line. The main reason he probably doesn’t play more is foul trouble; he gets 3.2 personals per game.
The sophomore will get a tough test in the paint against Los Angeles’ DeAndre Jordan. Jordan isn’t a scorer, but he’s extremely tough to contain on the boards and will make any shot close to the rim by opponents a tough one.
Jordan is the better overall center, but Turner is more versatile offensively and will have to use said versatility to win his positional matchup. One skill the Pacers center possesses is an excellent mid-range jumper, so if that is dropping for him, he can use it to score and open up some driving lanes for himself, as well.
However, if Jordan can bait Turner into some early fouls with aggressive rebounding and offensive finishes at the rim, he should easily win the center matchup and help his team coast to victory.
Can Indiana’s Bench Provide Any Sort of Spark?
The Clippers’ bench was expected to be a weakness this season, but it played extremely well to start the year, especially defensively. Now, Los Angeles’ reserves are coming down to Earth, but they’re still not anywhere near as bad as the Pacers’ players off the bench.
C.J. Miles has been the lone bright spot, achieving a solid on-court net rating of plus-1.8. However, every other non-starter on the roster has a net rating of minus-10 or worse, except for Aaron Brooks (minus-3.1)
Unfortunately, Miles has missed the Pacers’ previous six games with a knee injury, and could be affected by that in his Sunday return. Other players must help him out by stepping up, whether it’s Rodney Stuckey scoring in bunches, Al Jefferson crashing the glass or Lavoy Allen actually making a mid-range jump shot (he’s 4-of-20 from that range this season).
If the burden to win falls squarely on the shoulders of George and Turner for Indiana, the Clippers will win going away.
Our Preview’s Indiana Pacers vs Los Angeles Clippers Betting Picks & Predictions
The Clippers are at home, and have hit their stride since the disastrous loss to the Pacers last week. Indiana, meanwhile, will have to adjust to the returns of George and Miles, which will be a tough task against the stingy defense of Los Angeles.
At time of writing the best of the USA betting sites have not published their betting lines on this game, no doubt preferring to wait until they know the team line-ups for certain. But that has not put us off giving this preview’s betting picks and predictions for this NBA game below. Just take a look at the spreads when they are available and bet according to these guidelines.
- Los Angeles will be eager to get this victory against a less-talented squad that upset it badly a week ago, and should win by around 15 points. The likelihood is that you can bet on LA on the spread.
- Indiana is starting to regain the defensive identity that it has had for the past few seasons, and now it gets Paul George, an excellent perimeter stopper, back. Meanwhile, the Clippers have been lights-out on defense almost every game of the season so far. Expect a score somewhere around 100-85. So when it comes to the total points to be scored in the game, take a look at the mark the sportsbooks decide and if 185pts is lower go low and if it is higher, then go over.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.