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Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers (29-14) put their seven-game winning streak on the line Thursday night when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves (14-28) as small home favorites. The Clippers will be starting another stretch without one of their star players, as point guard Chris Paul will be out 6-8 weeks following thumb surgery.

         

Point spread: The Clippers opened as 2.5-point favorites, while the total is at 206.5 points, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)

NBA pick, via OddsShark computer: 105-97 Clippers (NBA picks on every game)

        

Why the Timberwolves can cover the spread

Los Angeles is just 3-9 straight up when playing without Paul and Blake Griffin since the beginning of last season, and that will be the case again here against Minnesota. The Timberwolves will have a huge edge at point guard with Ricky Rubio and Kris Dunn, and last year’s Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns should also be able to take advantage of Griffin’s absence inside.

While Minnesota is just 5-15 SU on the road this season, this matchup is certainly winnable considering the circumstances.

           

Why the Clippers can cover the spread

Despite the losses of Paul and Griffin, the Clippers are still a team that has won 16 of the past 17 meetings (going 10-6-1 against the spread) versus the Timberwolves. Los Angeles played Minnesota once already this season and won 119-105 as a 5.5-point road favorite on November 12.

Granted, both Paul and Griffin were on the court for that last meeting, but head coach Doc Rivers always seems to find the right guys to fill in at the right time to keep the team afloat. This is an excellent opportunity for Raymond Felton to step up in Paul’s absence.

              

Smart pick

The Clippers will be able to continue their recent success for the short term at the least with a win and cover in this spot. The Timberwolves remain a terrible road team, going 7-13 ATS away from home and covering in only two of their losses. The spread is low enough in this game that a Los Angeles victory should translate to beating the number too, so take the home team to take care of business and extend its winning streak to eight.

         

Betting trends

Minnesota is 5-1 ATS in its last six games.

Los Angeles is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games.

The total has gone under in four of Los Angeles’ last five games.

      

All NBA lines and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.



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