The Los Angeles Clippers had everything going their way in Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinal series in against the Houston Rockets and then they blew it. Can they make up for it in Game 7 and cash on the NBA lines?
The Los Angeles Clippers Can Win Because…
They have one game in which to avoid a miserable offseason, one filled with all sorts of regrets and frustrations. Imagine the Clippers’ position here: They’ve never made the Western Conference Finals in their history. They were just about there. They were playing at home and winning easily in a series they had dominated up to that point. Blake Griffin has been the best player of the playoffs, even better than Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. He had been ravaging Houston’s defense. The Rockets were coming unglued. Dwight Howard committed a flagrant foul and later picked up a technical foul. Houston was losing focus, and the Clippers – who had pulled away in the second half to win Games 3 and 4 in Los Angeles – were doing the same thing once again. James Harden was 5 of 20 from the field, 1 of 7 from three-point range, and he sat down late in the third quarter. Moreover, he didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter.
James Harden didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter after his team trailed by 19 points – surely, this meant the Clippers pulled away and won by 35, right? No – Houston came back behind Josh Smith and Corey Brewer, who combined to score 29 points in that fourth quarter, 14 by Smith, 15 by Brewer. You couldn’t find two less likely heroes for the Rockets, given that Smith and Brewer had been in the shadows for most of this series. The Clippers also had to help the Rockets. They hit only four field goals in the fourth quarter and did not hit a shot in the final 6:46 until Chris Paul hit a meaningless three at the buzzer.
The Clippers know they blew it. Now, they’re going to give everything they have to win this game. The consequences of losing would be too brutal. They’re going to play well through three quarters, and this time, they’ll finish the job in the fourth.
The Houston Rockets Can Win Because…
They now believe in themselves, something which really couldn’t have been said through the previous five games. NBA odds makers saw that the Rockets had been thoroughly outplayed through three quarters in Game 6, and had been pushing uphill the whole series. The Clippers had established complete superiority, and no one was thinking Houston would come back in that fourth quarter, especially without James Harden, the runner-up in the MVP voting. However, the Rockets rallied and played the best single quarter of their season, outscoring the Clippers, 40-15. Houston now gets two days to rest and play Game 7 at home. The crowd in Houston will be crazy, and the Rockets have a rested James Harden, who just needs to play one great game to carry the Rockets to the next round. It’s all set up well for them.
This won’t be easy for the Clippers, but the team that beat the San Antonio Spurs in a high-level series knows that it screwed up. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are not going to let this opportunity slip away. They have played so much better in the playoffs than Harden and Howard have. Los Angeles will find a way to win this. I have to go with the Clippers with my NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Clippers at GTBets