Because the Dallas Stars hockey team is playing tonight at American Airlines Center, the Mavericks are hosting the Clippers in a day game. It’s a morning start for the Clippers. The unusual early start time should be a plus for the Under. The Clippers are minus their two best offensive players, Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari. They are struggling to find a true point guard in their post Chris Paul-era with Milos Teodosic injured. LA is minus four of its opening night starters meaning such non-luminaries as Wesley Johnson, Montrezl Harrell, C.J. Williams and Sam Dekker are part of the rotation. So it’s not a surprise the Clippers are averaging 89.3 points in their last three road games discounting the 116 points they put up against the Hawks. Dallas ranks in the bottom-four in scoring and field goal percentage. The Mavericks haven’t broken triple digits in 10 of their last 15 games. Neither team gets much scoring production from their center. The intensity level in this series has been ratched up, too, the past couple of years when then free agent DeAndre Jordan went back on his word to the Mavericks and resigned with the Clippers. Dallas hasn’t forgotten that.
Stephen Nover’s NBA Saturday Spread Crusher
Pistons vs 76ers
Detroit Pistons +5 (-105)
Any time the better team is getting points, especially this many, I’m strongly looking underdog. Yes, the Pistons played last night. They didn’t play well either getting embarrassed by the Wizards, 109-91, on the road. That halted a three-game Detroit win streak and Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy was not happy ripping his team for not playing hard. I expect the Pistons to play better and with more intensity today. Detroit has covered each of the past five times following a loss. The Pistons also have revenge for a home loss to the 76ers from back on Oct. 23. Detroit is 14-7 on the season and in the argument for second-best team in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons have covered eight of their 11 road contests. The 76ers are greatly improved, but their record is 12-9 and they are striving to be more consistent with a lot of young talent that still is looking to mesh.
Miami’s season, as well as College Football Playoff ranking, took a hit with their loss a week ago to the Pittsburgh Panthers. A game that was never really close despite the 24-14 final.
Conversely, Clemson comes into the ACC Title tilt with momentum and most importantly, experience in big game situations.
The Tigers behind the Dabo staff’s preparation know how to approach, execute and win in pressure situations.
Most noteworthy is the fact that the current leadership at Clemson know how to schedule, as well. Consider that the Tigers had a late season bye week, followed by a game against Citadel in Week #12, and then an impressive win over a South Carolina squad that was playing solid football, ranked as well.
Clemson is healthy, both body and mind, and have been over-the-top good in January events the last two years. They are a stellar 5-1 SU/ATS.
It is safe to state that the Hurricanes could easily be a three or four loss team this year and easily could have failed to qualify for this championship game. Granted, we support Mark Richt and his ability to build young men and football players. But if the truth be known, and told, this is a ‘Canes team that is still rebuild, or build, mode.
Miami isn’t healthy, neither body nor mind, and enter this game having not had a break or an easy game, since September 23rd. The ‘Canes played their first game of the season on the first Saturday of September. Then had two weeks off, due to their team nickname, and play for the 11th straight week this Saturday. And to no secret this has an impact on a team’s state of mind… influences for this contest being their lack of quality depth and experience.
The reigning champs are not the same type of team they were a season ago but know that they have grown into their current scheme and been good each and every Saturday, save their poor showing at the Carrier Dome against the Orange, resulting in their only loss this season. Defense travels, especially in a neutral setting with big stakes at hand. The Tigers are one of the top defenses in all of football. They are off a road victory in which they held USC to just over 200 yards of offense. In a league that is offensive minded, for the most part, the Tigers have held seven of their opponents this season to less than 250 yards.
The Tigers’ offense has matured and developed as the season has progressed. Consider the fact that Clemson is averring over 35 points per game this season. Swinney and his staff are not given credit for how they have allowed the offense, minus last year’s Watson, to mature and grow.
Clemson is averaging over 450 yards of offense per game. They have scored 31 points or more in their last four games, two of those against ranked teams on the road (NC State and S Carolina).
Miami was ranked second in all of football just a week ago. They owned a perfect record and had taken down a good USC team on their home turf. Then came the challenge of winning on the road against a pedestrian but well coached Pitt team. Miami was fortunate, in a handful of games this year, to have come out a winner. They could well have lost to Florida State in early October. They held on to defeat G Tech by one point in Week #7, were fortunate to defeat Syracuse at home, followed by a close win over a less than average North Carolina team as a visitor. It was a four game stretch in which they forced turnovers. This is a Hurricane’s team that has lived on turnovers.
Miami has forced 29 turnovers while committing only 12 this season. The defense has been steady but without forcing Clemson into two-plus TO’s on Saturday their offense has little chance of scoring enough points to win and or cover.
Clemson’s national title defense is real. Something that few believed when the season started. Even when the offense was learning to play together early in the season the Tigers defeated Auburn in Week #2. The Tigers of Auburn dominated the first quarter against the Tigers of Clemson defense but failing to get into the end zone and kicking two field goals. It was the only points that Auburn would record losing 14-6.
There is little doubt heading into Week #14 that this Clemson club are the favorites to win their second straight CFP title. The Tigers have won 55 straight games when holding opponents under 23 points. Clemson will get their season average of points in Saturday’s game against the Canes, 35, and will hold a pedestrian Hurricanes offense to 23 points or less, resulting in a win and cover.
Swinney and his staff know how to prepare for the big game and coach up their kids for big games. Clemson has won 10 straight games against top-25 opponents.