The Western Conference is a bloodbath again this season. Not only do the Denver Nuggets look every bit the title contender they were last season, young and up-and-coming squads are coming to displace former stalwarts. If the playoffs began today, the Golden State Warriors would be in the play-in, and the Los Angeles Clippers wouldn’t participate at all.
So, these star-laden veteran teams have a lot of work to do if they want to prove they can still comPete with the next generation of NBA talent. The Warriors came away with an easy home victory when these two last played on Thursday, but NBA odds favor a Los Angeles victory on Saturday, December 2.
Our NBA picks and predictions for Warriors vs. Clippers hone in on how James Harden is making life simpler for Kawhi Leonard.
Warriors vs Clippers odds
Warriors vs Clippers predictions
The Los Angeles Clippers are still coming together. They’ve had some pretty hideous results on the court, but there have also been moments of promise.
One synergy that has developed more and more of late is that between James Harden and Kawhi Leonard. Harden to Kawhi is already one of the most frequent assist pairings in the NBA, and Kawhi is thriving as a play-finisher next to The Beard.
Kawhi is capable of doing a lot with the ball, but he’s also exceptional at doing less with it. He’s a midrange assassin and a competent 3-point marksman, but playmaking has never been his forte.
One of the benefits of Kawhi being on the ball less is that he’s not liable to create turnovers. Players that finish plays as a shooter or scorer, whether in isolation, off cuts, or spot ups, just turn the ball over less.
The Golden State Warriors don’t figure to force the issue against Leonard either.
Draymond Green is still an All-World defender, but he’s declined as an outright defensive playmaker. Whereas he once lived in the 94th percentile and above in terms of steal percentage among bigs per Cleaning the Glass, he’s been dropping the last few seasons. This year, Green’s steal rate is well below his typical rate.
Draymond is still fierce, stout, and positionally sound, but he’s not as liable to force turnovers as he once was. Neither are the Warriors as a whole. They force the 10th-fewest turnovers of any team this season, a direct reflection of how few pieces they have to pressure the ball.
With the departure of Donte DiVincenzo, Andrew Wiggins’ shaky play, and the injury to Gary Payton II, the Warriors have lost a ton of their ball hawks from last season.
Kawhi’s averaging 1.2 turnovers over his last 10 games and has had zero in four of those contests, including the game the Clippers just played against Golden State.
My best bet: Kawhi Leonard Under 1.5 turnovers (-115 at bet365)
Warriors vs Clippers same-game parlay
Stephen Curry Over 5.5 assists
Since my best bet on Leonard’s ball security isn’t available as part of a same-game parlay for Saturday’s contest, I’m instead going with the trio of a Warriors cover, the total points Under, and Steph Curry Over 5.5 assists.
I figure this will be a low-scoring game because Los Angeles has proven it can defend even with lackluster efforts by Harden. The Clippers rank seventh on defense on the year and have played at a Top-5 level over the last two weeks. Given their weakness at the point of attack, that’s remarkable.
The Warriors have generally been very strong against the spread on the road this season, while the Clippers have struggled ATS overall. Steph, for his part, is going to be asked to do more as the lead playmaker with Chris Paul likely sidelined. With CP3 in the fold, Steph is happy to work as an off-ball threat while Paul orchestrates the offense.
Steph is averaging two fewer assists this season over last for that reason, but in the one game he played without Paul, he tallied eight. As I expect Paul to miss at least one more game, I think Steph will lean into his traditional playmaking role again on Saturday.
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Warriors vs Clippers spread and Over/Under analysis
This is the second leg of a home and away set between the Warriors and the Clippers, and the line after a -3.5-point line in favorite of the Warriors at home, the line for Saturday opened at -4.5 in favor of Los Angeles.
That’s since grown to -5.5 at most Sportsbooks. Homecourt advantage is the most significant factor in such a flip, but there’s also something to be said about the difficulty in beating the same team twice in a row, particularly with the second leg away from your own barn.
That said, L.A. has struggled with minimal rest this season. It’s just 4-7 against the spread when playing on a single day's rest. Golden State has also played well away from Chase Center. They’re 6-3 ATS on the road this season.
The total for Saturday was 231.5 but action on the Under has pushed that down to 229.5. That original number was a tad ambitious, and I still like the Under even at this new price.
Golden State still shoots a ton of threes, and that creates a level of variability in Over/Under outcomes that is inescapable, but overall these have not been good offenses.
The shot profiles of these teams are not built for success. Klay Thompson has been searching on offense, and he’s been responsible for taking a ton of difficult, contested shots. Klay at his apex also makes a ton of difficult, contested shots.
So, it’s difficult, even foolhardy to try and get him to stop doing so. But it is noticeable that when things aren’t going well he’s trying to get himself going largely by taking the most difficult attempts on the board.
That’s not just a Klay problem either. The Warriors and Clippers have the worst and second-worst location-effective field goal percentage in the NBA per Cleaning the Glass. They both take tough shots as a rule, not as an exception.
Warriors vs Clippers betting trend to know
The Under is 1-6-1 in Clippers home games this season. Find more NBA betting trends for Warriors vs. Clippers.
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Warriors vs Clippers game info
|Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
|Saturday, December 2, 2023
|4:00 p.m. ET
|NBC Sports Bay Area, Bally Sports SoCal
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