NBA

Surging Clippers can put the Lakers out of their misery

Monday, March 4 at 10:30 PM ET

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Coverage: NBATV

The Los Angeles Lakers try to save their season when they host the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.

The Lakers are coming off a disappointing 118-109 road loss against the Suns last Saturday and now they've dropped six of their last eight to fall five games behind the Clippers and 4.5 games behind the Spurs for the seventh and eighth seeds in the Western Conference. They're also 1.5 games behind the ninth-place Kings and the Timberwolves are just one game behind them, so their playoff hopes are slim to none.

Before Saturday, FiveThirtyEight's CARMELO projection projected that the Lakers had a 14 percent chance to make the playoffs while FiveThirtyEight's ELO forecast gave the Lakers an even bleaker five percent chance to make the playoffs.

After the loss at Phoenix their chances dropped to just 12 percent according to the CARMELO projection and to merely three percent in the pure ELO forecast.

The Clippers are headed in the opposite direction, winning three of their last four, including Sunday's dominant 128-107 win against the Knicks. Former Laker Ivica Zubac, who was traded to the Clippers along with Michael Beasley for Mike Muscala at the trade deadline, explained the difference between both teams: "That's how we gotta be. When I was with the Lakers, we didn't have nights like this. Every game was a close game for us, but now with the Clippers, this team is really locked in, every possession against every team."

Zubac has made some solid contributions for the Clippers, averaging 8.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in nine games with the team and he can be a difference-maker on Monday, as he'll play with something to prove.

NBA Trends:

The Los Angeles Clippers are:

4-0 ATS in their last four games against a team with a losing straight up record

5-1 ATS in their last six games overall

5-1 ATS in their last six games against Western Conference opponents

20-6 ATS in their last 26 games against Pacific Division opponents

13-6 ATS in their last 19 road games

The Los Angeles Lakers are:

17-35 ATS in their last 52 Monday games

1-4 ATS in their last five games overall

1-4 ATS in their last five games playing on one days rest

0-4 ATS in their last four home games against a team with a winning road record

4-0 ATS in the last four meetings in Los Angeles

The Lakers trailed the Suns by 19 points in the fourth quarter on Saturday before cutting the deficit to five with just under four minutes left. LeBron James missed two free-throws that would have pulled the Lakers within three with 47.4 seconds left and the Suns held on for the win. The Lakers can't afford to let Clippers get ahead early, starting the game strong is a must or else it will be a long night for them.

The Clippers play like a solid unit while the Lakers are relying too much on LeBron James and Brandon Ingram. I'm siding with the team that has momentum on their side and a better coach. The Lakers can't lose this game but I just can't see them slowing down this talented Clippers team.

NBA Pick: Clippers +4.5 (-110)

Check odds here: http://bit.ly/jazzsportsON

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