Toronto Raptors at LA Clippers – Staple Centre at 20:30
I love Sunday evenings. It’s one of the few opportunities that viewers in the UK get an opportunity to watch a live NBA game at a reasonable hour. Tonight at 8.30pm, it’s the turn of the Toronto Raptors (8-6) heading to LA to face the Clippers (6-6) live on BT Sport.
Back-to-back wins of the admittedly weakish Atlantic Conference and franchise records for single season wins has got Canadian fans engaged to a new level with the Raptors. Despite this, I’ve been vocal in this column previously about my concerns for the Raptors this season. They’re due to face another tough match up on Sunday night.
DeMarre Carroll has been excellent for Toronto since his switch from the Hawks and provides versatility in defence whilst still shooting for close to 50%. The problem for the Raptors is he needs support, and Toronto’s reliance on a small-ball set up (sacrificing height for pace and agility) hasn’t really yielded fruit agains’t teams of any quality. To make things worse, their only proven big man, Jonas Valanciuanas, broke his finger Friday which leaves a massive defensive question mark for Toronto.
For a returning Conference champ, their results are pretty ugly. Their only wins in their last 9 games have been teams with a combined record of 4-35 (76ers, Pelicans and Lakers). And that was with Valanciuanas healthy. The Raptors can expect more trouble throughout the season facing teams with a winning record.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not madly in love with the Clippers, but they have so much going for them on Sunday.
With championship challenging talent like Blake Griffin and Chris Paul in your side, you can remain competitive even when things aren’t going your way. 8 time NBA all star Paul had been carrying a groin injury but increasing court time in the last two fixtures has him back to close to full fitness.
After a run of injury affected close losses, they looked nigh on certain to beat the currently undefeated Golden State Warriors this week before the Warriors kicked into overdrive and reeled them in late in the 4th quarter.
The Clippers are now near 100% squad strength with JJ Redick coming back from back problems and Paul Pierce available after being rested on Friday.
LA are 5-2 at home this season compared the Raptors 5-5 on the road. As highlighted early, the Raptors have inflated numbers due to their poor opposition.
The spread on Sunday currently stands at -5.5, which would feel a couple of points light in normal circumstances, but adding in the fact the Clippers have by far the better of the injury situation, they be able to cover the spread on Sunday night.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: LA Clippers -5.5 at 1.79
Prices correct at time of writing.
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