Let me first address the hate-filled comments made by Los Angeles owner Donald Sterling, who has a long history of discrimination and offensive behavior. In an audio recording first published by TMZ, Sterling is heard questioning his girlfriend’s association with minorities. “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” the man believed to be Sterling says. He continues, “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.”
The level of Sterling’s ignorance and intolerance was best summarized by our President. “I don’t think I have to interpret those statements for you; they kind of speak for themselves,” Obama said, speaking at a Sunday news conference in Malaysia. “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything. You just let them talk. And that’s what happened here.” What is important for sports investors is the fact that Sterling’s comments have caused a major distraction within the Clippers’ locker room. In fact, Los Angeles head coach Doc Rivers led a 45-minute team meeting wherein several players vocalized their disgust and disappointment.
When asked how comfortable he was now working for a team owned by Sterling, Rivers said, “I don’t know. It doesn’t make me comfortable today, for sure. I have a job to do for the players. I have to get them to do their jobs and it’s going to be a hard job and I get that. They’re going to get hit all night. This is a distraction and my job is to try to lead them the best way that I know how.” During the team meeting, players and coaches discussed boycotting their playoff game against Golden State after learning of Sterling’s remarks. Ultimately, there is no way that Los Angeles will be ready to play this afternoon after the developments over the last 48 hours, and coach Rivers suggested that his routine has been thrown off.
“In a weird way I think Golden State is having a ball right now because we’re not talking about them,” Rivers said. “The fact that I spent 45 minutes in a meeting instead of watching film did not make me happy, if you know me at all. It is real life. You have to deal with it.” Consider for a moment how you would feel if your boss made comments like the ones spouted by Sterling. How would you feel going to work the next day? How motivated would you be to perform at a high level for a boss who had just insulted an entire race? Meanwhile, Northern California has always resented Los Angeles, and Sterling’s racist comments have only served to fuel the fire that is already burning in Oakland.
Golden State is 19-6 ATS in April games, 13-2 ATS in first round playoff games, 24-9 ATS after covering the point spread in two of its last three games, 20-8 ATS following a home loss and 11-2 ATS off a close loss by three points or less. The Warriors are also 68-50 ATS as underdogs and 8-0 ATS at home versus elite opposition who own a win percentage between .600 and .800., whereas the Clippers are a money-burning 58-94 ATS versus teams with a win percentage between .600 and .700. From a league-wide standpoint, underdogs are an incredible 18-6-1 ATS in the playoffs this year!
The Warriors are 27-15 at home this season where they averaging 104.5 points per game on 46.4% shooting from the field and 37.3% from beyond the arc. Golden State is also averaging 106.4 points per game versus division opponents (46.9% FG; 39.7% 3-PT) and 109.8 points over its last five games. Overall, Golden State is averaging 104.1 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 101.4 points per game, thereby making the Warriors 2.7 points per game better than average offensively.
Golden State should score at will tonight against a mediocre Los Angeles defense that is allowing 102.3 points per game to division opponents and 103.6 points over its last five games. Overall, Los Angeles is 0.7 points per game better than average defensively, which is not good enough to contain the Warriors’ explosive attack. The Warriors have also been crashing the boards with renewed enthusiasm as they are averaging 57 rebounds per game in the playoffs, including 15 offensive boards per contest. In contrast, Los Angeles is averaging just 50 rebounds per game in this series, including ten offensive boards on the road.
I also like the fact that Golden State is making 78.1% of its free throw attempts at home this season, whereas the Clippers are shooting just 69.9% from the charity stripe in this series and 70.2% versus division opponents. Finally, the home team is 7-3 ATS in the last ten meetings between these two squads. With Golden State standing at 5-2 SU and 4-3 ATS at home in this series (4-2 ATS L/5), including 2-1 this season, grab the points with the Warriors and invest with confidence.