The Los Angeles Clippers didn’t win Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Houston Rockets, but they now get a chance to win this series at home in L.A. Can the Rockets do something special with their season on the line – or at least cover the NBA spread?
The Houston Rockets Can Win Because…
They regained the urgency which was missing over the weekend. In Game 5, the Rockets – with their season on the line – played with desperation. Not surprisingly, they were a lot more effective. They were more engaged and aware on defense. They held the Clippers under 45 percent shooting from the field. The Clippers shot under 30 percent from three-point range in this game. They didn’t get the bunch of free throw points (more than 30) which they got on Sunday in Game 4. In this game, the Clippers had just 18 made free throws entering the final three minutes of the fourth quarter, when the game was already well out of reach, and Houston had a 118-98 lead.
The Rockets were a lot better on defense in Game 5. J.J. Redick, who scored over 30 points in Game 4, was held to nine in Game 5. Jamal Crawford scored just five points. So did Austin Rivers after his huge weekend in Los Angeles, when the Clippers took a 3-1 series lead. The Rockets bottled up the Clippers’ role players, forcing Blake Griffin and Chris Paul to do everything. Meanwhile, on offense, James Harden took charge and took a lot more shots. Trevor Ariza was outstanding, hitting 8 of 12 field goal attempts. Dwight Howard bounced back from a terrible Game 4 with 50 percent field goal shooting and 20 points with 15 rebounds. Terrence Jones was one of the best bench players in this game, scoring 12 on 5 of 8 shooting. Corey Brewer was even better, scoring 15 on 5 of 8 shooting with five free throws. This was a complete team performance. Now that Houston has learned how to play, it can sustain this basic approach and put together another winning performance in Game 6, so keep this in mind when looking at the NBA betting odds.
The Los Angeles Clippers Can Win Because…
They have been the better team for most of this series. Remember that the Clippers were without Chris Paul in the first two games in Houston, and won Game 1 by 16 points before losing Game 2 by only six. The Clippers have played only one bad game in this series, which was Game 5. They have been dominant at home in this series, winning both games in Los Angeles by more than 20 points. Houston got Game 5 at home, but in Staples Center, the Clippers should be able to call the shots. DeAndre Jordan played only 24 minutes due to foul trouble. As long as he doesn’t get into foul trouble, he can cause problems to the Rockets with his defense and rebounding. As long as that one thing happens – Jordan staying on the floor, free from foul difficulties – the Clippers should win comfortably.
If Houston had been competitive in Games 3 and 4 in Los Angeles, this game would set up as a hard one to call. Given that the Clippers crushed the Rockets at home, it does not make sense to bet on Houston here. You have to go with the Clippers with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Clippers at WagerWeb