The Clippers Can Beat Portland Without Paul And Griffin

There will be no Blake Griffin and no Chris Paul tonight for Los Angeles, making many feel they have no chance against the Trail Blazers.

If you were to read the NBA headlines on any of the major sports information websites today, there’s one constant theme:

The Clippers are screwed.

That’s the obvious conclusion after both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin suffered serious injuries during the Clippers’ Game 4 98-84 loss to the Trail Blazers Monday in Portland. Griffin’s already been ruled out for the rest of the playoffs, while Paul has had surgery on his hand and won’t be returning for the rest of the series.

We didn’t really give the Clippers much of a chance of winning an NBA title this year, not with them likely having to go through both the Spurs and Warriors to get to the final. So not that much has changed about the Clippers’ championship hopes.

But we think there may be an over-reaction here that we can take advantage of tonight (Wednesday) as LA hosts Portland for Game 5.

All of this ‘Clippers are screwed’ talk has people lining up to bet the Blazers. LA opened as a 3-point favourite Tuesday morning at BetOnline (after the injuries occurred, so the oddsmakers were already taking them into account), and by Wednesday afternoon the Blazers were 3.5-point favourites at Sports Interaction and Bodog.

That’s a 6.5-point swing on the NBA point spread, with the injury news already factored into the line!

Clippers screwed

We’ve written before about how it’s actually smart to bet on teams missing their star players, since the supporting cast usually steps up its collective game, the opponents may let down, and the injuries are already factored into the betting line.

SBNation ran an article this past December talking about how good the Clippers’ record was without either Griffin or Paul (they were 23-12 over 2-plus seasons at the time), and noted how LA won a playoff game in Houston last year without Paul playing. That very same website ran an article Tuesday announcing that the Clippers were screwed.

Granted, this is a rare time when two star players are suddenly missing from the lineup, but LA has shown an ability to overcome such hurdles in the past.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers has embraced the challenge and thinks his team will be even more focused.

“We still have home court. No one has won a road game yet in this series,” Rivers told reporters. “Now we have to find a way of winning tomorrow and that’s as far as we can think right now. My job with the guys is to make sure that they’re ready and focused. It’s easy when you have the injuries we have to think all kinds of other stuff.”

And the Blazers’ Damien Lillard admitted that beating the Clippers should be easier without Paul and Griffin to worry about.

“It changes a lot,” Lillard said. “Their best player goes down. The guy who makes their offense go. It’s unfortunate. You don’t wish that on anybody, but they still have a really good team.”

The Trail Blazers aren’t exactly the Harlem Globetrotters. They were a respectable 44-38 this year (especially respectable when you consider who they lost during the offseason) but Portland was 16-25 on the road this year. The Clippers were 9 games better overall and 29-12 at home.

Now the Trail Blazers are a 3.5 point favourite in Los Angeles?

We think this betting line has been adjusted too far. LA won’t be able to overcome the loss of Paul and Griffin in the long term, but we expect the Clippers to come out with an ‘us against the world’ mentality – especially with an excellent motivator of a coach like Rivers urging them on – and to win Game 5 tonight.

Give us Clippers +3.5 (and a taste of the moneyline at +135 as well) at Sports Interaction!