Two Western Conference teams will meet tonight under the bright lights of Hollywood, as the Houston Rockets (18-9, 5th West) visit the Los Angeles Clippers (21-8, 2nd West). Houston is coming off of a huge come-from-behind win against the Spurs, their third win in four games, while L.A. handled the Suns to win their fifth game out of their last six.
Here is a preview for tonight’s game out west, along with odds and a free pick.
By the Numbers
We’ll start with the Rockets, a team that is playing at the third-fastest pace in the league. Houston averages 119.7 points per game, the second-most in the NBA, on 44.9 percent shooting. They make more threes (15.8 per game) than anyone and average the second-most offensive rebounds per game.
On defense, Houston allows 114.3 points per game. The team is averaging 8.5 steals per game and 5.1 blocks as well. Overall, the Rockets’ fast tempo leads to a lot of points both for and against, as they rank 3rd in Offensive Rating but 16th in Defensive Rating.
The Clippers also play at a fast pace, and as a team average 115.1 points per game on 45.8 shooting. Even though Los Angeles makes fewer threes than the Rockets, they sink their shots more efficiently, ranking 11th in three-point percentage at 36 percent. L.A. is also elite in rebounding, ranking fourth on the offensive glass.
Los Angeles’ 107.8 points allowed is significantly better than Houston and ranks in the top half of the league. Their steals and blocks are solid, averaging 7.8 and 5.2, respectively. As a whole, the Clippers are one of the most balanced teams in the league, coming in seventh in Offensive Rating and sixth in Defensive Rating.
Who to Watch
The Rockets have the NBA’s leading scorer in James Harden. Harden had a bad shooting day against the Spurs but still put up 28 points with eight rebounds and seven assists. This season, he’s averaging a whopping 38.9 points per game, and is constantly a threat to drop 40 points in any given game. Him and Russell Westbrook give the Rockets one of the best duos in the league.
The Clippers have an All-Star duo of their own in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Leonard, who had a cool 20 points against the Suns, is averaging 25.5 points per game. The reigning Finals MVP is also grabbing 7.8 rebounds and five assists, while snatching two steals a game. He’s joined by George, who’s averaging nearly 25 points per game, giving L.A. a duo that can beat anyone.
Odds and Pick
Both teams are playing well, but with the Clippers at home, they’re considered the slight favorites at -5.
The last time these two teams played, the Clippers were victorious 122-119. Given each team’s fast pace and offensive ability, I think we’re in line for another high-scoring contest. However, I’m picking Houston to get their revenge. I think Harden bounces back from a poor shooting game and drops over 40, giving his team enough to win. So give me the Rockets +5 tonight in Los Angeles.