- Lakers’ superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis are both questionable
- Clippers got the better of the Lakers on opening night
- Get the odds, our pick, and all the info you need to bet the game below
Five consecutive NBA games is the best thing about Christmas Day. The top teams in the league are in action, starting with the Celtics and Raptors. The fourth game of the slate is arguably the most eagerly anticipated of the lot, however, with the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers meeting at Staples Center for the first time since the Clips’ 112-102 victory on opening night.
The Clippers are just three games back with the Lakers suffering a losing streak. Kawhi Leonard sat out the Clippers’ loss to the Thunder on Sunday, which came on the second night of a back-to-back. Leonard will be available for Wednesday’s matchup in LA.
Find the latest Los Angeles Clippers vs Los Angeles Lakers odds in the table below.
Los Angeles Clippers vs Los Angeles Lakers Odds
|Los Angeles Clippers||-1.5 (-115)||-125||Over 223 (-110)|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+1.5 (-105)||+105||Under 223 (-110)|
Odds taken Dec. 24th
James, Davis Questionable
Both LeBron James and Anthony Davis are questionable for the Christmas Day clash with their Los Angeles rivals. Davis injured his knee while guarding Paul Millsap in the third quarter of the Lakers’ loss to the Nuggets. James sat out that game – he is suffering with a thoracic muscle strain.
The four-time MVP suffered the injury against Indiana, but played through it against the Bucks. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst has reported that this is more serious than load management and James has also been dealing with a nagging groin problem.
The health of James and Davis is obviously the biggest story in the build up to this game. The Lakers barely stand a chance if both miss out. Kyle Kuzma – who averages 11.3 points per game – is the next highest scorer on the team after the two MVP candidates. They both rank in the top 15 in the league in usage rate.
— NBA (@NBA) December 14, 2019
If this was just another game, both would be expected to sit this out. The Lakers shouldn’t be taking risks with their star players’ health. James and Davis will be desperate to play, though, and could rest at the start of 2020 if needed. Their availability is a complete unknown at the moment, making betting decisions challenging.
The Clippers won six of seven to start the month. They have lost three of five since then. Doc Rivers’ team are fourth in defensive rating and fifth in offensive rating in December, but rank 15th in the league in opponent points in the paint. Interior defense has been a potential weakness for the Clips this season, and the Lakers are a team with the size to trouble them inside.
Frank Vogel’s team are third in the NBA in two-point attempts per game. Their offense is far less reliant on the three-point shot than most; with Davis, Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, they are third in offensive rebounding percentage. For all the defensive prowess on the Clippers, they don’t have the same size as the Lakers, who will look to target Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell defensively.
LeBron adds perspective on the Lakers' upcoming Christmas game with the Clippers. pic.twitter.com/qba9hRv6p2
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 23, 2019
At the other end of the floor, the role of Lou Williams as the third scorer for the Clippers is massive. Williams missed the loss to Chicago, scored just six points against the Rockets and was -7 in the Sunday loss to Oklahoma City.
The offense of Williams and Harrell is one advantage the Clippers have over the Lakers – they need their Sixth Man of the Year duo to be at their best. How Davis, Howard and McGee (who all rank in the top 16 in the NBA in blocks per 36 minutes) guard Harrell will be key.
All neutrals will be hoping Davis and James are healthy for Wednesday’s Los Angeles showdown. James’ availability is more important than Davis’ – the offense can function without Davis in a way it cannot without James. Davis’ on/off numbers have been underwhelming all year, and ESPN’s real plus-minus ranks him just ninth among all power forwards. James leads the NBA in that metric.
After averaging 32.8 points over a four-game stretch earlier in the month, Paul George has gone 10-for-27 over the last two games. The six-time All-Star will be the player to benefit most if James is not fully fit or unavailable. With both of their stars ready to go, the Clippers are the team to back, though it may be best to wait for more information about James and Davis’ injuries.
Pick: Los Angeles Clippers ML (-125)