The shorthanded LA Clippers will try to find a way to win without their best players when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on Wednesday night. It will be the second meeting in four nights for the two teams.
The Clippers (8-14, 4-6 home) have struggled for most of the season without three of their starters, Gallinari, Teodosic and Beverley. They managed to (barely) stay afloat without them, but disaster struck when their best player, Blake Griffin, got injured four games ago. The Clippers were useless since then, losing all three games by an average margin of 17 points. Their best game however came three nights ago in Minnesota, where they only lost by 6 against the Wolves.
The Wolves (14-11, 6-7 home) added a lot of quality pieces in the Summer to complement an already talented nucleus, and they were highly expected to fight for a place in the Western Conference finals. That remains an objective, even if the Wolves have been a bit slow to start, apparently not quite founding perfect chemistry so far. Minnesota has alternated wins and losses with regularity in the last 8 games (4 wins, 4 losses). Last time out, they surprisingly lost by 3 points to Memphis at home two nights ago.Bet on Clippers vs. Wolves and claim your 100% (100 Eur) freebet at Ohmbet now!
Team news: The Clippers will continue to miss Griffin, Beverley and Teodosic, but they might get back Gallinari, who is questionable. Minnesota is still without Bjelica and there is a small doubt over key man Jimmy Butler, but he is listed as probable and should play.
The potential return of Gallinari would be a breath of fresh air for Doc Rivers and the Clippers, who are heavily shorthanded and right now need to field guys who can barely play in the NBA. However, Gallinari is probably the least important of the four missing starters and even if he plays, his impact is expected to be very limited in his first game back from injury. Chances for him to return are 50-50.
The Clippers are in deep trouble right now and they will have a very tough time until more players return. They haven`t been able to compete in their last three games, with the exception of that game in Minnesota. However, Minnesota gifted that game on a silver platter for the Clippers, making 9 more turnovers than them, and the Clips still couldn`t capitalize. That discrepancy in turnovers should definitely not happen again.
I can`t see the Clippers beating a playoff level team in their current situation, especially as it`s still early days since Griffin got injured, and they will need an extra week or so to calibrate a system without him.
The Timberwolves aren`t playing very well, but this is a game they should definitely win, based on talent alone if all else fails. They should win this even if Butler doesn`t play (although the bet would lose all value), but he is highly probable and every report indicates he will start. I am betting on this game with the presumption that he will play.
The handicap line is set at 5.5 points, which I think is a bit risky considering the fact that Minnesota is often involved in close games (12 of their 25 games this season have been settled by 6 points or less). As such, I will go on the straight away win with raised stakes. 10 units seems like a justifiable investment to me, given the situation of LA. Prediction: LA Clippers – Minnesota Timberwolves 101 – 111.