After winning five straight games, the LA Clippers head to Houston on Thursday for a classic showdown with the Rockets, featuring two of the top four teams in the Western Conference. The Clippers are in second at 42-19, five games behind the Lakers, while the 39-21 Rockets sit in fourth, 2.5 games behind the Clippers, and 7.5 behind the Lakers.
Both teams head into Thursday’s matchup fully healthy, which should give fans the battle royale that they want. The Clippers are coming off a Tuesday night win against Oklahoma City, while the Rockets are coming off a tough road loss to the Knicks on Monday night. Tip-off is set for 8 pm ET at the Toyota Center in Houston. Read on for more on the game in our betting preview.
Results of the Duo
The combination of a healthy Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both on the floor has been a winning one for the Clippers. They come in 21-7 when both are on the floor. Leonard is averaging 27 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.2 assists. He also grabs nearly two steals per game.
George is averaging 21.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game himself. Throw in Lou Williams’ ability to score on demand with Patrick Beverley’s ability to defend anyone in the league, and you’ve got yourself a winning team. The Clippers rank top 5 in both offensive and defensive rating in the league.
The Other Dynamic Duo
Since James Harden and Russell Westbrook have been reunited, they’ve both played just as they always have, out of their minds. Westbrook’s efficiency and shooting percentage even went up. The superstar is taking way fewer bad shots. Harden is averaging an NBA-leading 35 points per game, and his step-back seems to get better with age.
The Rockets’ decision to go small and trade away Nene and Clint Capela has worked out so far. The additions of Robert Covington and Jordan Bell allow the Rockets to go even smaller, spreading the floor.
This gives Westbrook the driving lanes he needs, and Harden the open looks from deep that he needs. All feast, no famine. Covington and fellow sniper Eric Gordon both average around 14 points per game. Covington is shooting nearly 37% from three since joining the Rockets.
Spreading it Out Farther
Los Angeles has been better this season against the spread, as well as by record. The Clippers are 33-28 against the spread this season, while the Rockets are only 29-31. The Rockets are just over .500 against the spread at home, at 15-14. The Clippers are an even .500 on the road, at 15-15.
The Rockets are favored in this showdown by one point. The over/under is set at 237. Place your bets, ladies and gents. Good Luck!