NBA Pick on Clippers to Safely Take Series Lead in Game 3

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, May 8, 2015 3:53 PM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Friday.

 



With or without its superstar point guard, look for the home team to prevail and cover the point spread Friday night when the second seeded Houston Rockets (61-28, 26-16 away) visit those third seeded Los Angeles Clippers (61-30, 32-13 home) for Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA at 10:35 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN, with the series tied at 1-1.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Los Angeles as a moderate home favorite for this contest with the current line at -4½ with odds of -105.


No Paul, No Problem
The big news surrounding this Game 3 is the questionable status of Chris Paul after he missed the first two games with a hamstring injury sustained in the dramatic Game 7 win over the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. However, the Clippers have had no problems scoring without Paul, pulling the 117-101 road upset in Game 1 and then covering the spread in a 115-109 loss in Game 2 also in Houston.

Thus the Clips at least did what they had to do by winning one of the first two games, leaving the Rockets in the position of having to be the winning NBA picks in one of these next two games in Los Angeles in order to reclaim the home court advantage that they earned in this series as the two-seeds. For that to happen, they will need the James Harden that scored 32 points in Game 2 and not the one that shot 6-for-13 with nine turnovers in Game 1.


Not the Same Old Clippers?
The Clippers have been notorious for underachieving in the playoffs despite owning some gaudy regular season records, in fact never advancing past the second round in the history of the franchise! This could be the season that changes though as the Clippers have already displayed more heart than they ever have in past post-seasons this year and they would have a 2-0 series lead here if not for Houston shooting a ridiculous 64 free throws in Game 2!

Past Clipper teams would have crumbled in the first round after losing twice at home to the defending champion San Antonio Spurs, but instead Los Angeles showed unparalleled gameness by doing the unthinkable and coming back to win two games in San Antonio, leading to the dramatic Game 7 win on a basket by the hobbled Paul with one second left. Further indication that this year may be different was then overcoming the loss of Paul to win Game 1 easily.

Speaking of Paul, we had a private workout with the training staff on Thursday, which is an encouraging sign as it marked his first on-court activity since the deciding shot vs. the Spurs. If can play tonight, it would obviously provide a large boost both on the court and emotionally, but even if he cannot go, the Clippers have already proven that they can exploit the deplorable Houston defense without him and would also probably benefit from good line value.


Distressing Houston Defense
Can it be that the Rockets were simply overconfident before the Game 1 blowout loss after having such an easy time disposing of the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, especially upon learning that Paul would be out? That is a possibility, but the defense has not been good all year, and if you think the defense was bad the first two games at home, consider that the Rockets are allowing 104.0 points per game on the road this year combining the regular season and playoffs!

And because of that defense, the Rockets needed to rally from a nine-point deficit at halftime and still trailed in the fourth quarter in a desperation home game in Game 2, and that is not to mention the aforementioned parade to the foul line to help them along. Houston does not figure to get those same calls playing in Los Angeles and the Rockets have not given anyone any reason to believe that their defense will suddenly improve.

Thus if the Clippers play as well as they did in Game 2, do not expect another comeback by the Rockets in hostile territory without the foul calls. And it is also apparent what a large coaching edge the Clippers have here with Doc Rivers over Houston’s Kevin McHale.


Head-to-Head ATS Dominance
Finally, with the Rockets covering the first two games of this series they are now 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings overall.

Look for that ATS dominance to continue with or without Paul and for the Los Angeles Clippers to take a 2-1 series lead with a covering home win over Houston in Game 3 on Friday.

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NBA Pick: Clippers -4½ (-105)