On Sunday morning, the NBA season and most of the world froze. In a tragic and sudden shock, Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianni, and 7 others were killed in a helicopter crash. Since then, the NBA has been flipped on its head. NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced Monday that the Clippers at Lakers game scheduled for Tuesday would be postponed.
It would have been the first game at Staples Center since Kobe’s passing. Instead, the first game that “the house that Kobe built” will see is the Clippers hosting the Sacramento Kings on Thursday. The home Clippers and visiting Kings must find a way to focus on the game in what is sure to be another emotional night for the NBA.
The Los Angeles Clippers come into the contest on fire, as they have been much of the season. They’ve won 8 of their last 10 games and trail the Lakers by only 3.5 games for the lead in the Western Conference. Sacramento’s turnaround season fell apart on them quickly, and the Kings are now 17-29 with 1 game to play before Thursday. A home game against the Thunder.
Sacramento is coming off of back to back wins for only the 6th time this season. Take one at home against OKC, and they roll into L.A. on a winning streak. They’ve only won three straight once this season, in early December. A few days later, they dropped 8 in a row.
After signing a four year, 86 million dollar deal this offseason, Buddy Hield was supposed to lead the Kings to the promised land. Just a few days ago amidst his struggles, he was benched in favor of Bogan Bogdanovic. Hield seemed to get the message loud and clear as he scored 42 off the bench Monday. Leading his team back from down 22 with just over 5 minutes left, against the Timberwolves.
Doc Rivers and the Clippers have to feel like strangers in their own home right now. After all, they play in the Staples Center, the Lakers house, Kobe’s house. As if the rumor mill could have any worse timing, word has been spreading that there could be drama in the Clippers locker room. Doc Rivers and Patrick Beverley have publicly shaken off such rumblings.
Outside of the mild drama, and amidst a tough time in the league, the Clippers have risen above it and played extremely well. They simply don’t allow teams to get clean shots. They rank 3rd in opponents field goal percentage and 4th in opponents three-point shooting percentage. They’re also 2nd in the league in offensive rebounding.
The Kings are simply outclassed and outmatched in this one. Doc Rivers’ Clippers are favored by (-0) in the matchup, with an over/under of (000). The Clippers are 12-9 against the spread when they are favored at home this season. Don’t let Sacramento’s 11-7 road dog record against the spread fool you. The pick here is for the Clippers to win and cover in Kobe’s house. Take the Clippers at William Hill as the favorite.