The Los Angeles Clippers will look to keep their slim Pacific Division lead from getting even slimmer tonight when they open post-All Star play opposite the Timberwolves. This evening’s Western Conference showdown between L.A. and Minnesota is scheduled to get underway at 10:30pm ET at the STAPLES Center. The latest NBA Odds have the Clippers listed as a -6.5 against the spread home favorite; the game total is presently set at 196 points.
Minnesota’s 17-17 record is hardly worthy of striking fear into an opponent; however, the team’s play heading into the All Star break was probably enough to put upcoming adversaries on notice. The Timberwolves, who are 10 games back of the first place Thunder in the Northwest standings, have won four of their last five games and the lone loss in that stretch came in overtime against the Nuggets in Denver.
Minnesota bounced back from its Pepsi Center setback with a 100-98 home win over Utah the Wednesday before All Star weekend. The Timberwolves shot just 40.3 percent from the field in beating the Jazz, but they did drop 11-of-22 from beyond the arc while winning the battle of the boards 48 to 41.
Five Minnesota players scored in double figures, including point guards Luke Ridnour, who nailed the game winning basket at the end of regulation, and Jose Juan Barea. Ridnour finished with 17 point and Barea tallied a team high 22 off the bench. Big men Kevin Love, who won the Three-Point contest over the weekend, and Nikola Pekovic each posted a double-double in the narrow victory.
The Clippers, now 20-11 with a 1.5 game lead over the Lakers in the Pacific, snapped a rare two game skid just before the break by beating the Nuggets 103-95 at the STAPLES Center. Defensively Los Angeles was outstanding, limiting Denver’s potent offense to 40.2 percent field goal shooting; however, the offensive display put on by Blake Griffin and Chris Paul stole the spotlight.
Griffin posted 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting while Paul scored a season high 36 points after hitting 11-of-16 from the field and 11-of-12 from the charity stripe. Griffin also shared a double-double with teammate DeAndre Jordan (10 points, 16 rebounds) thanks to his 12 rebounds. Paul finished with nine assists and two steals as well.
The Clippers had won three straight in this series prior to the Timberwolves 101-98 win at the STAPLES Center on January 20th. History says Los Angeles will even the score tonight as it is 9-1 straight up in its last 10 games as a home favorite with a spread between 4 and 7.5, but it also indicates that Minnesota will keep things close. The Timberwolves are 9-1 against the spread in their last 10 as a road dog with a spread between 4 and 7.5 points.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs Los Angeles Clippers 2012 NBA Predictions: Provided by SBG Global
Minnesota Timberwolves +6.5 (-110), Over 196 (-110)
Los Angeles Clippers -6.5 (-110), Under 196 (-110)