After knocking the Spurs out, the Clippers have no time in which to gather themselves. They find themselves as a road dog on the NBA betting lines for Game 1 at Houston.
The Los Angeles Clippers Can Win Because…
They have all the confidence in the world following their dismissal of the mighty Spurs. San Antonio played well in the series and very well in Game 7. Yet, the NBA odds underdog Clippers were a little bit better – one basket better. Los Angeles answered every run made by the Spurs. The Clippers fell behind by as many as five points in the fourth quarter, but rallied to tie the game. They fell behind by three points inside the last three minutes of the fourth quarter, but they came back from that deficit as well to knock out the champions. Chris Paul was fantastic with 27 points on a bum hamstring. Blake Griffin scored 24 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and handed out 10 assists in a complete performance. Matt Barnes hit three three-pointers and scored 17 points. Jamal Crawford scored 16 points. The ability of the Clippers to get good performances from their bench is exactly what can help them in this game. What you are also likely to see in this series is that since Josh Smith of the Rockets is a terrible free throw shooter, the two coaches are not likely to engage in “Hack-A-Player” tactics. DeAndre Jordan probably won’t have to worry about shooting a lot of foul shots in this series. As long as he can focus on doing what he does best – defense and rebounding – the Clippers can stay close in this game and steal it in the fourth quarter. The Clippers have the better power forward in this series, with Blake Griffin on the floor. They also have the better coach in Doc Rivers, matched up against the improving but still not-as-proven Kevin McHale of the Rockets.
The Houston Rockets Can Win Because…
Their opponent is likely going to be without its best player, the player who carried the Clippers past the Spurs in round one. Chris Paul hit tons of big and improbable shots on his bad hamstring, which he injured early in Game 7 against San Antonio. It is highly possible that Paul will not be able to play in Game 1. The LA Clippers, coming off their exhausting series against San Antonio, might feel that Game 1 is a game in which they’ll have to play their bench a little bit more. They’ll try to pace Paul through the series and hope that he’ll be in good physical shape in Game 2, so that he can be there in a Game 6 or Game 7 situation down the line. Even if Paul does play in this game, it is hard to think that he’ll have the lateral movement needed to be at his best, especially on defense. Houston can expose that deficiency.
If a player of Chris Paul’s importance is well below 100%, don’t expect him to be able to repeat what he did in Game 7 against San Antonio. That was a once-in-a-lifetime performance in the face of an injury. Paul is not likely to play well in this game – if he even plays at all. And beyond any of that, even if he does play, this team is wiped out after a grueling seven-game series while Houston has been resting at home. Take the Rockets with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Rockets at WagerWeb