A couple of Western Conference powers who have gotten off to strong starts in spite of adversity will face off today, as the 7-3 Los Angeles Clippers visit the 7-3 Houston Rockets (7:30pm ET Wednesday on ESPN).
The Clippers have yet to see star wing Paul George on the court, due to his shoulder injury. He is questionable to make his return against the Clippers, though I wouldn’t expect him to play a huge role in his first game back anyway.
The Rockets have somehow eked out their strong record despite some uneven play and injuries early on. Superstar guard James Harden was terrible in his first few games, but he has bounced back. Eric Gordon has been terrible throughout and now he is going to be out for six weeks with a knee injury. Gerald Green is out the entire season with a foot injury, and Danuel House has dealt with back and ankle injuries also.
Will the Clippers be able to claw out a road win against a depleted Rockets squad? We’ll talk about that and then decide how this game will end up from a betting standpoint with our LA Clippers vs Houston Rockets predictions at the end.
Will Clippers’ Former Rockets Players Play With Extra Motivation?
The Rockets and Clippers have a bit of a rivalry going. The Clippers have a whopping four of their top eight minute-getters who used to play for the Rockets: Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Patterson. Houston traded all four players away.
We often overlook the human element to basketball (and sports in general). Things like playing the team that didn’t want to keep you on its roster can spark a competitive fire that can lead to more energy and inspired play.
We’ll see if the Clippers’ former Rockets players find a little bit of extra motivation from this matchup. Against a Rockets team without much depth due to their injuries, their energy could be key in wearing down the opponent.
Will Clippers’ Surprising Rebounding Strength Continue?
Before the season, I had the Clippers pegged as my NBA Finals favorite for 2020. Despite that, I was worried about their ability to play inside, and specifically rebound, against bigger teams.
However, Los Angeles has made those worries look unfounded. The NBA’s third-shortest and second-lightest team is third in offensive rebound percentage and eighth in defensive rebound percentage. That is with 6’9” wing Paul George not playing a single minute so far. It has been a team effort from guys like Kawhi Leonard, Montrezl Harrell, Patrick Beverley, JaMychal Green and Ivica Zubac.
Houston has been mediocre rebounding the basketball on both ends of the floor. The Rockets have two of the NBA’s best rebounders at their positions in Russell Westbrook and Clint Capela, but the rest of the roster is mostly guys who are undersized or just not particularly athletic compared to players they are competing against for rebounds.
The Clippers have an opportunity to beat up a depleted Rockets squad with hard work on the boards if they commit themselves to it.
Can Ben McLemore Rediscover Preseason Shooting Rhythm?
McLemore has, quite frankly, been a bust so far in his NBA career. The No. 7 overall draft pick in 2013, the 6’5” wing has failed to turn his tremendous athleticism and picturesque shooting stroke into meaningful production.
The Rockets took a flier on him this offseason and he actually looked like an under-the-radar breakout candidate for the Rockets in the preseason. He drained 2.7 threes in just 18.7 minutes per game off the bench at a solid 39 percent clip.
In the regular season, he has continued to get steady rotation minutes, but his frequency (1.3 makes in 15.5 minutes per game) and accuracy (31.7 percent) of threes have decreased significantly.
McLemore is reportedly going to replace the injured Danuel House Jr. in the Rockets’ starting lineup today. In his first start of the season, we will see if McLemore can regain confidence in a more prominent role for the team.
Our Preview’s LA Clippers vs Houston Rockets Betting Picks & Predictions Verdict
The Rockets have had an easy schedule thus far. All seven wins have come against teams with below .500 records and their point differential of plus 1.9 ranks just 13th in the NBA despite their 7-3 record.
Combine that with Houston’s injuries being a blow to a team already lacking in depth and I think the Clippers will just wear the Rockets down physically here. So USAbetting’s LA Clippers vs Houston Rockets predictions against the top bookmakers for sports betting in the USA are:
- Houston is a 2 or 2.5-point favorite with the sportsbooks on the spread in this contest. I recommend betting on the Clippers +2.5pts @ odds of -115 with Intertops or Bookmaker.
- Los Angeles’ rebounding strength will slow the game down, as will the Rockets’ offense, which would prefer to keep things slow to preserve the energy of their rotation players. Bet the under 234pts @ best odds of -108 with BetOnline.