NBA Returns With Jazz-Pelicans, Lakers-Clippers, NBACast
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The NBA returns Thursday night after a 141-day COVID-19 pandemic delay with two real-life games under The Bubble at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.
The marquee matchup on Re-Opening Night features the depleted Los Angeles Clippers battling their cross-town rivals, the Lakers, a mere 2,514 miles from Staples Center. This game will be featured on the bookies.com-sponsored NBACast.
It also airs on TNT starting at 9 p.m. ET.
The Lakers (49-14) hold an all-but-insurmountable edge over the Clippers (44-20) in the fight for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference heading into this eight-game, pre-playoff run. How hard they play consistently over the eight-game run-up to the playoffs remains a huge NBA futures betting variable. Postseason home-court advantage doesn’t exist this time, given that all the games are being played within the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
RELATED: NBA Playoff Betting Guide
The Lakers are 4.5-point favorites and -196 Thursday, according to the morning line at PointsBet. The Clippers (+165) will be without Lou Williams (fresh off his trip to Magic City in Atlanta) and Montrezl Harrell. Patrick Beverley also remains questionable. The total in this one is 216.
Fans of NBA betting can follow the Lakers-Clippers action via the NBACast, co-hosted by NBA experts Nate Duncan and Danny Leroux. The #NBACast offers live, in-game analysis, up-to-the second breakout stats and — as always — will take your questions. The NBACast is sponsored by Bookies.com.
The season's restart begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT with the New Orleans Pelicans meeting the Utah Jazz. The Pelicans are -3 favorites and -130 on the NBA odds money line at PointsBet, while the Jazz are +125. The over/under in the early game is 224 points. Rookie phenom Zion Williamson remains a game-time decision given that me missed much of the preseason in Orlando after leaving on July 16 due to what the team called an “urgent family medical matter.”
Clippers Hold Season Edge Over Lakers
The Clippers have claimed two of three from Lakers this season. Kawhi Leonard scored 30 points in a 112-102 opening night victory. Leonard followed that by besting Anthony Davis, LeBron James & Co. with 35 points in a memorable 111-106 victory on Christmas Day. The Lakers claimed the most recent game between these two teams 112-103 on March 8. It was their penultimate game before the NBA’s COVID-19 delay. Davis plans to play Thursday night after having his eye injured in a scrimmage against the Orlando Magic on Saturday.
RELATED: Check out our NBA Expert's three best bets for Thursday’s action and our free NBA picks every day of the season
The absence of Harrell and Williams will certainly be felt by bettors considering the over/under. They combined for 37.3 points per game before play halted in March. The Clippers have the best bench in the Association in terms of scoring at 51.5 points a game. Williams has won NBA Sixth Man honors three times.
LeBron James is listed as probable, but it’s far more probable than not he will work to make his presence known in the season-re-opener.
Lakers Betting Favorites To Win West, NBA Title
BetMGM has the Lakers slotted at +250 to pop champagne as NBA champions, while the Milwaukee Bucks are close behind at +280. A Bucks vs Lakers NBA Finals matchup is +310 at DraftKings, while the Bucks meeting the Clippers returns +350. The Lakers are +130 betting favorites to win the Western Conference. The Clippers are +180.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers remains upbeat about his team’s status.
"Guys have the virus, guys have family stuff, and so you have all of this what I call clutter in your lives, and it's part of life," Rivers said during a video press conference earlier this week. "So we've had to deal with that.
"But adversity is not all bad. You're going to go through hard stuff, and if it's at the beginning, then let's do it now."
The Clippers were as complete of a team as any before the shutdown and will likely continue to ride their defense deep into the postseason. Both teams are looking at an over/under of 5.5 at DraftKings in the eight-game run-up to the playoffs.