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The Washington Wizards (13-20) have had a disappointing last two games, with a one-point loss to Boston and a 14 point loss to Memphis. Prior to that, the Wizards had won eight of nine games and were starting to look like a competitive team in the east after dealing with a tough first half of the season.
In that 125-111 loss to Memphis, the Wizards were led by Russell Westbrook with 23 points and 15 assists. Westbrook’s play, along with Bradley Beal’s consistent scoring, has been the catalyst in the Wizard’s late first-half run. Beal finished with 23 points, which is well below his usual production. Robin Lopez added 14 points. The difference in this game was the second quarter, where Washington was outscored by 13 points. That allowed Memphis to take a 15 point lead into the half, and the Wizards only briefly got the lead under 10 in the second half.
The Clippers (24-13) are also on a bit of a slide, having lost two games in a row, and three of their past four. Their latest loss was a 117-112 decision against Boston. The Clippers were without Kawhi Leonard in that game, as he was dealing with back spasms. Paul George picked up some of the slack, scoring 32 points while grabbing five rebounds and dishing four assists. Reggie Jackson added 25 points, three rebounds, and seven assists. The game featured 16 lead changes through the first three quarters before Boston pulled away in the fourth.
This is the second meeting between the two teams. Los Angeles won the previous matchup 135-116 on February 23. Leonard led the Clippers with 32 points that night, while George added 30 points and six rebounds. The Clippers bench outscored Washington’s 61-29, and the Clippers hit 19 three-pointers in the win. Beal was one of three Wizards over 20 points, scoring 28 while dishing out 10 assists. Westbrook added 20 points and 10 assists, while Mo Wagner had 21 points and seven rebounds.
On the injury front, Boston’s Kawhi Leonard is questionable tonight with back spasms. Marcus Morris, Sr. is also questionable with a concussion. Washington is without Thomas Bryant (knee – out for season) and Ish Smith.
Clippers Look to End Slide Right Before the All-Star Break
The Clippers are in good shape as they approach the All-Star Break, having endured an extended period of time without Paul George. Now, Kawhi Leonard is dealing with back spasms and missed their last game against Boston. He is questionable for tonight, but it would not be surprising to see him sit given the opponent, the upcoming break, and the team’s first-half record.
.@Yg_Trece makes it a two-point game!
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) March 3, 2021
The Clippers certainly hope to have Kawhi Leonard. Leonard (26.8 ppg/6.3 rpg/4.9 apg, 38.9%) is the unquestioned leader of this team. Paul George has averaged 23.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, and 5.4 apg while hitting 45.0% from beyond the arc. Serge Ibaka (11.4 ppg/6.7 rpg) holds down the paint, while Lou Williams (12.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg) has been a steady hand off the bench.
Offensively, the Clippers are second in the NBA in effective field goal percent (56.8%), ninth in turnover percent (12.2%), 15th in offensive rebounding percent (22.7%), and 16th in free throws per field goal attempts (.191). Defensively, Los Angeles is 14th in opponent’s effective field goal percent (53.5%), 22nd in opponent turnover percent (11.8%), sixth in defensive rebounding percent (79.2%), and ninth in opponent’s free throws per field goal attempts (.178).
Wizards Hope To Finish First Half on a High Note
There’s no doubt that Washington had a rough first half of the season, but they have rebounded nicely and can finish the first half on a high note with a win tonight against the Clippers. The Wizards let one slip away against Boston, but the Memphis game was a huge disappointment.
Bradley Beal has been the biggest force behind Washington, carrying his team at times this first half as his teammates were dealing with COVID. The All-Star has averaged 32.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, and 4.8 apg. Russell Westbrook has averaged 20.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg, and 9.8 apg. Robin Lopez, who has taken on additional minutes with the loss of Thomas Bryant to injury, has averaged 8.2 ppg and 4.2 rpg. Davis Bertans has been deadly from beyond the arc, hitting 38.4% of his attempts while averaging 11.6 ppg and 3.1 rpg.
As a team, the Wizards have an effective field goal percentage of 52.3%, 23rd in the league. Washington is 14th in the league in turnover percent (12.4%), 21st in offensive rebounding percentage (20.8%), and third in free throws per field goal attempts (.229). Defensively, the Wizards are 23rd in the NBA in opponent’s effective field goal percent (54.8%), 15th in opponent’s turnover percentage (12.8), 20th in defensive rebounding percentage (77.3%), and 27th in opponent’s free throws per field goal attempts (.221).
The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
In reality, this pick depends on Kawhi Leonard’s status. If he plays, I’m betting the Clippers. If he doesn’t, and there is a strong possibility of such, then I think Washington has the upper hand. With Leonard, there are two scorers who can cancel out Beal and Westbrook. Without Leonard, the Clippers have to rely on Reggie Jackson and Lou Williams to pick up the slack. Advantage Washington. So pay attention to the injury report. If Leonard is out, buy Wizard stock.
Want another opinion on this pick?
Full-Game Total Pick
I’m going to take the OVER in this game regardless. Washington’s offensive numbers have been much better lately, and they could easily end up in the high 110’s or low 120’s based on recent performances. The Clippers with or without Leonard are a very good offensive team, and Washington’s defense is not that great. So look for a high scoring affair to close out the end of the first half of the season.