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NBA: Los Angeles Clippers @ Los Angeles Lakers Preview

When the LA Clippers made huge offseason moves for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the summer of 2019, the status of this clash got elevated.

However, since then the Lakers have struggled to be consistent contenders, while the Clippers have fallen short of the top after a series of injury issues.

Tuesday’s clash sees the Lakers on the up and hopeful of boosting their postseason chances with a win against their neighbours. As NBA rivals week kicks off, let’s hope this clash returns to 'Battle of LA' levels.

WhatLA Clippers @ LA Lakers Arena, Los Angeles, California
WhenTuesday, January 24th 2023
How to watchNBA Pass,
OddsLA Clippers -175, LA Lakers +155

Lakers making moves

After two impressive victories on the spin coming into this one, the Lakers sit within two games of the sixth-placed Clippers in the Western Conference standings. The middle of the West is pretty congested given that just four games split fourth and 13th, but after a poor start the Lakers don’t have to settle for the Play-in, they can still climb into the top six.

They are close to a return for Anthony Davis, with coach Darvin Ham saying he recently came through training without a hitch. LeBron has been holding the fort in his stead, posting 20+ points in 29 straight appearances.

LeBron continues to chase down the scoring record after that great run. He’s projected to top Kareem Abdul-Jabbar next month if he stays healthy. The clash with the Oklahoma City Thunder is +210 to be the night that sees LeBron pip Kareem’s 38,387-point tally, with James just over 200 points shy after a 37-point return on Sunday.

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The front office is chipping in too, having landed Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura. He looks set to make his debut on Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs, but his arrival should boost the Lakers’ frontcourt.

The fact they didn’t have to part with first-round picks for him is also a boost, as the Lakers don’t look to be done in the trade market with a couple of weeks to go until the deadline.

Kawhi leading the Clippers

The Clippers have also won their last two and, with a 30-point showing at the Mavericks, it appears Leonard is back to his best heading into a crucial stage of the campaign. Leonard has been the Clippers’ leading scorer in six of his last seven appearances, including consecutive 30-point hauls.

Despite that form, the two-time Finals MVP is available at -115 to post over 27.5 points against the Lakers. Given that the hosts recently surrendered 132 points against a poor Houston Rockets side, expect an elite scorer like Kawhi to make a big contribution on Tuesday night.

The Lakers sit 20th in the league for points conceded per 100 possessions, giving up 113.8 points on average. Only five sides have conceded more points in the paint than the Lakers this term, so expect a mid-range specialist like Kawhi to thrive in this clash after having returned to full fitness.

Clippers can be caught out

The Lakers come into this one on a high after coming back from 25 points down in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers at the weekend, so the momentum will be with them going into this huge showdown.

The hosts also have a 12-11 home record this term, so they should fancy their chances at the Arena. However, the Lakers’ struggles could prove a problem for the Clippers in this encounter, as they don’t tend to put away teams below them in the standings.

The Clippers have impressed against the league’s better sides this term, holding a 17-9 record against sides who are above .500. However, their record against the rest is 15 defeats in 23 games. Meanwhile, the Lakers have a fantastic 14-2 record against teams above .500 and they’ve won six of their last 10 home games, so they have to be taken seriously.

The Clippers remain +1100 contenders for the title, but that price is based on their talented roster rather than their inconsistent 25-24 record this term. They’re available at -110 to win this one with a -4.5 handicap.

However, the Lakers look to be a real threat heading into this encounter and it might be worth avoiding them at +4.5 and taking them on the Money Line. Their stellar record against the league’s top sides shows they revel in the big occasion, so the hosts look like a good bet to claim another win at +155.

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