The Houston Rockets & Los Angeles Clippers are both coming off puzzling, decisive losses. Which team will pick itself up and cover the NBA betting lines?
The Houston Rockets Can Win Because…
Their opponent just bottomed out and is in a state of transition. The NBA odds favor the Clippers, who had beaten Oklahoma City on the road, 120-108, but just when it seemed that the Clippers were turning the corner, they ran into a brick wall on Friday night. Los Angeles was blown out by the Dallas Mavericks, 129-99, throwing their previous forward progress into a state of uncertainty. Was it just a bad game, or was it an indication that the Clippers are not yet ready to compete at the highest pinnacle of professional hoops? Here’s what was really bad about Los Angeles’ performance: Six Dallas players scored at least 14 points. Six. That’s a minimum of 84 points right there, and it also indicates that the Mavericks received balanced scoring, which is often a product of good ball movement and overall unselfishness. The Clippers were helpless against Dallas’ offense, and with Houston and James Harden coming to Los Angeles for this game, it’s very possible that the Rockets are going to roll right over the Clippers. Houston is going to be ticked off after losing an 18-point game at Utah, and the Clippers might bear the brunt of the Rockets’ frustrations.
When you look at that 18-point loss to Utah, it really can show that the Rockets are in good position to win this game. In the loss to Utah, Harden went just 3 of 13 from the field. It’s highly likely that Harden will come out fired up for his next game, and play extremely well. No very successful athlete wants to be written about negatively. If he’s not able to perform well one night, he will make sure that he’s ready the next night. That “next night” mentality has served Houston well this season, and Harden should not play poorly two games in a row. He should be prepared to play his best.
The Los Angeles Clippers Can Win Because…
They're back home in a building where they can feel comfortable. The Clippers have played seven of their last nine games on the road. They are a respectable 4-3 in those games, and now, after that period away from home, they can settle into a new portion of the season in which they will play four of their next five games at Staples Center. The Clippers should benefit from this, being able to sleep in their own beds at this later point in the season, when stamina and endurance become even greater priorities for professional athletes.
What should also help the Clippers is that Houston was awful against the Utah Jazz earlier this past week. The Rockets allowed Utah to hit almost 48 percent of its shots. Houston hit just 7 of 32 three-pointers, and it got outworked on the offensive glass, giving up 22 offensive rebounds to the Jazz while collecting only eight offensive rebounds of its own.
There is a chance that Blake Griffin could briefly play in this game for the Clippers, but it’s hard to see how effective he’ll be if he’s even cleared to play (which he hasn’t been). If Griffin plays, he’ll have to be re-integrated into the Los Angeles lineup, which should be good in the long run but harmful in the short term. Houston looks like a better choice here, so take them with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Houston 4.5 at YouWager