You won’t want to miss this game. In one of the most anticipated matchups of the season, the 42-19 Los Angeles Clippers and 39-21 Houston Rockets square off in Houston today (8 p.m. ET Thursday on TNT).
Both teams are very healthy right now after facing some injury problems throughout the season and are playing well as of late. Los Angeles is on a five-game winning streak in which it has outscored opponents (four of which are in playoff positioning) by an average of 17.4 points per game. Houston snapped its own six-game winning streak with a disappointing loss against the New York Knicks on Monday, but the squad is undoubtedly ready for redemption after a couple of days off.
The second-seeded Clippers and fourth-seeded Rockets should definitely provide us with an entertaining game today. We’ll hone in on some key factors that will decide the outcome before nailing down the best ways to bet on the contest with our LA Clippers vs Houston Rockets predictions.
Will Ivica Zubac Chip in With Any Sort of Impact for Clippers?
The Rockets’ super-small-ball approach since trading away center Clint Capela has worked well, in general. The team is 7-3 since the trade deadline and has wins over the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics (twice), Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies.
However, Houston’s strategy does make it a poor rebounding team. The Rockets have been outrebounded in each of their 10 games since the trade deadline, but the disparity becomes much worse in their losses. Houston has been outrebounded by an average of 21.7 rebounds in its three losses since the deadline, while the Rockets have been outrebounded by only 4.9 boards per game in their wins.
Clippers starting center Ivica Zubac is a very traditional seven-foot center who scores efficiently inside the paint and rebounds very well but he struggles to space the floor and defend the perimeter. He usually plays about 20 minutes per game and is good for around eight points and seven rebounds.
I could see Zubac’s impact in this game being very limited by the Rockets’ versatile, quick lineups. I could also see him dominating the boards and making Houston pay for trying to defend him with players much shorter than he is.
Will Eric Gordon Rise to the Occasion for the Rockets?
This season has been an injury-plagued one for Gordon, who is averaging a five-year low in points per game (14.8) and a career low in true-shooting percentage (51.6). Recently, things have been even worse.
Gordon hung a spectacular 50 points on the Utah Jazz on January 27, but his scoring average since then is just 11.5 points per game. He is also shooting a terrible 34.5 percent from the field and 23.9 percent from three-point range.
The key thing about Gordon is that he doesn’t have a conscience. Whether he is red-hot or ice-cold on his shot, he is always going to fire away shots that he likes. In this game, we’ll see if he rises to the occasion against his former team and against Lou Williams, a former teammate who he’s fought with in the Sixth Man of the Year award voting in recent years.
Will the Russell Westbrook-Patrick Beverley Rivalry Affect Things?
There aren’t many better individual rivalries in the NBA than the one between Westbrook and Beverley. It started with Beverley injuring Westbrook in the playoffs seven years ago, and their competitive play and disrespectful comments to each other continue to this day.
One fun storyline to watch in today’s game will be how the feud between these two point guards will affect the game. Beverley has mocked Westbrook’s shot this season, and Westbrook has also suggested strongly that Beverley is an overrated defender. The intensity between the two players might be at an all-time high.
There is a difference between playing with controlled aggression and playing with an out-of-control anger. Both guys need to play intense basketball without letting their emotions lead to bad fouls or ill-advised shots and turnovers.
Our Betting Preview’s LA Clippers vs Houston Rockets Predictions & Picks Verdict
This is a drama-filled game with seeding and pride on the line. With so many players on both teams who have played for the other earlier in their careers, there is sure to be a lot of competitiveness.
When both the away and home teams have very similar levels of motivation, I think home-court advantage becomes less of a factor and the players themselves play a bigger role. As such, I like the Clippers’ defense and their depth of offensive options a little bit better, so I expect a win for them. So these are today’s LA Clippers vs Houston Rockets predictions against the lines from the sites for online betting in the USA:
- Los Angeles is just the better team and doesn’t have a glaring weakness like the Rockets have (rebounding) with their super small lineups. You should bet on the Clippers +1 point @ -115 with Intertops or Bookmaker. It is “pk” (ie: no spread and effectively just the moneyline) with Bovada, BetOnline and 5Dimes.
- A playoff atmosphere will lead to more isolation basketball and defensive action that is high intensity.For the second of the picks, taking the under 236.5 total points @ -110 with Intertops seems like an obvious choice.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.