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Lakers are two-point favorites over the Clippers heading into season opener

LeBron James and the Lakers will renew their rivalry against the Clippers at Staples Center on Tuesday.
LeBron James and the Lakers will renew their rivalry against the Clippers at Staples Center on Tuesday.
(Getty Images)

The Clippers and Lakers, in that order, are the betting favorites to win the NBA championship, and the Clippers opened as one-point favorites to win their head-to-head regular-season opener Tuesday night at Staples Center. But it’s not that way anymore.

The Lakers are now two-point favorites in the opener, although the Clippers are still the 3/1 favorites to win the league title, followed by the Lakers at 4/1, Milwaukee at 6/1, Houston at 8/1 and Philadelphia at 8/1.

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USC’s ability to find strong production from its reserves has played a big role in the Trojans staying competitive in the Pac-12 this season.

Surprisingly, the Westgate in Las Vegas has both league teams sitting below Utah in its “Regular Season Win Total” proposition. Milwaukee leads the league at 58.5 wins, followed by Utah at 53.5, the Clippers at 53 and the Lakers at 50. Bettors can choose over or under the posted totals.

So why the disconnect between championship futures and regular-season wins? Key market influences are confident both Los Angeles teams will pace themselves with load-management strategies so they can peak for the playoffs.

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In the World Series, Houston is about a 2/1 favorite to win the series, depending on the sportsbook.

Front-line pitching has been a key for Washington and Houston. It will be front and center in the first two games, with Max Scherzer of the Nationals facing Gerrit Cole of the Astros in Game 1, followed by Stephen Strasburg against Justin Verlander.

Scherzer and Strasburg have a combined postseason earned-run average of 1.71 while pitching 42 of Washington’s 90 innings (a 47% load). Cole and Verlander have a combined postseason ERA of 2.11 while throwing 47 of Houston’s 98 playoff innings (a 48% load).

Recapping the weekend

UCLA and USC kicked off a winning — but not perfect — weekend for Los Angeles football teams with double-digit covers in Pac-12 Conference play.

UCLA, a four-point underdog, earned just its second point-spread cover of the season in a 34-16 rout of short-handed Stanford. The Bruins are 2-5 straight up and 2-4-1 against the spread heading into Saturday’s home game against Arizona State.

USC, an 11-point favorite, solidified its hold on first place in the Pac-12 South with a 41-14 thrashing of Arizona. The Trojans are 4-3 straight up and ATS this season. At 3-1 in league play, they hold the tiebreaker over Utah, which is also 3-1 after shutting down Arizona State 21-3. USC plays Friday night at Colorado.

The Rams, three-point favorites, had no trouble in Atlanta. The Rams are 4-3 straight up and 5-2 against the spread (71% cover rate). They picked up a game on Seattle (5-2), which lost at home to Baltimore as a field-goal favorite — but not on NFC West-leading San Francisco (6-0), which survived the elements in a 9-0 shutout of Washington while laying 9.5 points. The Rams will be big favorites against winless Cincinnati on Sunday in London.

The Chargers, two-point underdogs, were well positioned to make it 4-0 straight up and ATS for L.A. teams in the week, but they blew an opportunity at the goal line in the final moments of a 23-20 loss at Tennessee. Philip Rivers and company fell to 2-5 straight up, 1-5-1 ATS ahead of Sunday’s battle in Chicago against the slumping Bears.

Other notes

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