Clippers vs. Rockets Game 3 Betting: Chris Paul Still Out?

clippers-vs-rockets-game-3Down double digits in the third quarter, the Houston Rockets looked like they were headed to an 0-2 deficit on their home court. However, the Rockets scraped back into Game 2 against the L.A. Clippers and prevailed 115-109. Now, action heads to Los Angeles for Game 3, which we’ll discuss below. But first, here’s a look at the Game 3 betting line:

Game Time: May 8th (Friday) at 10:30pm ET on ESPN
GTBets.eu Betting Line:
L.A. Clippers -4 (-110)       Over 217 (-110)
Houston Rockets (-110)    Under 217 (-110)

The Rockets were handled pretty easily in the first game of this series, falling 1117-101. And as mentioned before, they were struggling in Game 2 before coming back, thanks to James Harden scoring 16 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter. The MVP runner-up didn’t have his best shooting night, hitting only 7-of-17 shots overall, and 3-of-10 behind the arc. However, he was phenomenal from the free-throw line, going a perfect 15-for-15.

As a team, Houston made 42 out of 64 free throws – both franchise playoff records. Hack-a-Howard worked to perfection since he made only 8 out of 21 free throws. But what hurt L.A. was the rest of the Rockets making 34 out of 41 (82.9%). Howard more than made up for the bad free-throw shooting by scoring 24 points on an assortment of alley-oop dunks, along with 16 boards and four blocked shots.

For the Clippers, Blake Griffin’s early-game domination, 26 points in the first half, helped L.A. take control early. However, with Chris Paul still out with his hamstring injury and DeAndre Jordan in foul trouble, the Clippers couldn’t hang on to their lead. So what can they do to win? On the other side, what can the Rockets do to make it two in a row?

L.A.: Chris Paul needs to get Healthy, Jamal Crawford needs to hit Shots

chris-paul-injuryAustin Rivers has done a decent job, and Jamal Crawford not so much, in relief of Chris Paul. CP3 missed the first two games, and nobody can fill his ability to distribute the ball on this team. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee on when he’ll be ready to play. Regarding Paul’s status for Friday night’s game, head coach Doc Rivers said, ”My guess is it’s going to come down to the eye and feel test. With hamstrings, there really is no gauge.”

Going back to Crawford, he’s largely been really bad in this series. After committing 6 turnovers in Game 1, he shot just 6-of-22 in the second game, including 1-for-8 from behind the arc. He’s never made a high percentage of shots, but Crawford is hitting just 36.7% of his attempts in this series.

Houston: Must make Outside Shots, also play Small Ball More

trevor-arizaAs a team, the Rockets have really struggled with their shooting – especially behind the three-point line. They only made 5-of-26 three’s (19.2%) in Game 2, preceded by 11-for-33 in the first contest. This is not a team that overwhelms opponents inside like a Memphis or Chicago, so they need to shoot at least around 35% from beyond the arc to continue competing.

The other thing, Houston might want to consider playing small ball more often. When they were behind in the second half, coach Kevin McHale put his smaller lineup in and they took over the game. That’s not to say the Clippers won’t be more ready for small ball in Game 3. However, Trevor Ariza is good enough defensively to slow Blake Griffin down while the smaller lineup jump-starts the offense.

Game 3 Prediction: Houston 109 – L.A. 103

2014 NBA All-Star Rosters set – 7 First-Time Players make Cut

lamarcus-aldridge-all-star-gameThe 2014 NBA All-Star reserves were recently announced, which means that we now have complete teams to discuss. In all, seven players received their first ever All-Star selection, with Stephen Curry both getting his first nod and a starting role thanks to the fan vote.

Other first-time players who’ll be joining Curry on the Western Conference team include LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis. The latter will be taking Kobe Bryant’s place on the team since he’s injured and can’t play. Lillard is not only playing in his first All-Star game, but also competing in four other contests over the weekend. As for Aldridge, he’s not only a first-time All-Star, but also a legitimate MVP candidate this year.

Moving to the Eastern Conference, first-time selections include DeMar DeRozan, Paul Millsap and John Wall. Now in his fifth year, DeRozan really seems to have stepped his game up while averaging 22 PPG and leading Toronto to the top of the Atlantic Division. Millsap, who’s spent most of his career in the West, seems to be enjoying his change of scenery in Atlanta. And Wall has now reached the potential that everybody predicted for him coming out of Kentucky.

Now that we’ve covered the first-timers in the 2014 NBA All-Star game, let’s take a quick look at the complete rosters, with stats included.

* = Starter
+ = Injured player

Eastern Conference All-Stars

* F Carmelo Anthony, New York – 27.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 3.0 APG
* F Paul George, Indiana – 22.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.4 APG
* F LeBron James, Miami – 26.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 6.6 APG
* G Kyrie Irving, Cleveland – 21.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 6.4 APG
* G Dwayne Wade, Miami – 18.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.7 APG
F/C Chris Bosh, Miami – 16.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.1 APG
G DeMar DeRozan, Toronto – 22.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.8 APG
C Roy Hibbert, Indiana – 12.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.1 APG
G Joe Johnson, Nets – 15.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.7 APG
F Paul Millsap, Atlanta – 17.7 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.9 APG
C Joakim Noah, Chicago – 11.5 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 4.2 APG
G John Wall, Washington – 20.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 8.5 APG

Western Conference

* F Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City – 31.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 5.3 APG
* F Blake Griffin, LA Clippers – 23.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 3.5 APG
* F Kevin Love, Minnesota – 25.6 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 4.0 APG
*+ G Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers – 13.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 6.3 APG
* Stephen Curry, Golden State – 24.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 9.1 APG
F/C LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland – 24.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 2.8 APG
F/C Anthony Davis, New Orleans – 20.7 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.4 APG
G James Harden, Houston – 23.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.4 APG
C Dwight Howard, Houston – 18.6 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 1.7 APG
G Damian Lillard, Portland – 20.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 5.8 APG
F Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas – 21.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.8 APG
G Tony Parker, San Antonio – 18.1 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 6.3 APG
G Chris Paul, LA Clippers – 19.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 11.2 APG

2014 NBA All-Star Game to feature 4 First-Time Starters

paul-george-pacersThere’s not normally a lot of turnover when it comes to NBA All-Star game starters. Fans usually vote big-name veterans in as starters, whether they’re injured or healthy. Case in point, Kobe Bryant has played all of six games this season, but he was still voted into the All-Star contest.

Speaking of which, Bryant had previously said that the game needs to feature some younger players. And he’ll get his wish because four first-time All-Stars were also voted in as starters too. Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Paul George and Stephen Curry all garnered enough fan votes to start in their first All-Star contest.

Many were surprised that Curry wasn’t selected as a starter or reserve last year. But he won’t have to worry about that this season after garnering lots of fan votes. Love is another interesting story because he passed Dwight Howard just before the voting closed. “Hey, I’m popular now,” Love said jokingly. “It’s very humbling to me to be starting in the All-Star game. I tip my hat to the fans in the Twin Cities and all over Minnesota and beyond.”

stephen-curryIt’s little surprise that George was voted in as a starter. He’s led Indiana to the league’s best record so far and is averaging 23.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 3.4 APG. Kyrie Irving has also put up some very solid numbers, with 21.7 PPG, 6.1 APG and 3.0 RPG. Amidst a weak crop of Eastern Conference point guards, Irving definitely stands out, even with the Cleveland Cavaliers’ struggles.

The 2014 NBA All-Star reserves will be announced on January 30th, two weeks before the game takes place on February 16th in New Orleans. We’ll cover the entire All-Star game rosters when they’re released, but for now, here’s a look at the starters.

Eastern Conference

Kyrie Irving, PG Cleveland Cavaliers – 21.7 PPG, 6.1 APG, 3.0 RPG
Dwayne Wade, SG Miami Heat – 18.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.7 APG
Paul George, SF Indiana Pacers – 23.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.4 APG
LeBron James, SF Miami Heat – 26.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 6.5 APG
Carmelo Anthony, SF New York Knicks – 26.1 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.1 APG

Western Conference

Stephen Curry, PG Golden State Warriors – 23.5 PPG, 9.2 APG, 4.6 RPG
Kobe Bryant, SG Los Angeles Lakers – 13.8 PPG, 6.3 APG, 4.3 RPG
Kevin Durant, SF Oklahoma City Thunder – 31.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 5.1 APG
Blake Griffin, PF Los Angeles Clippers – 22.6 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 3.5 APG
Kevin Love, PF Minnesota Timberwolves – 25.0 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 4.1 APG

NBA Power Rankings for January 2nd, 2013

We’ve moved past the quarter point of the 2012-2013 NBA season, and the Western Conference is really looking good at this point. In fact, the NBA’s best three records belong to the West as three teams out there are really streaking. But does this mean that we think a West club is a shoe-in to win the championship? Keep reading to see what we think about the number one team and the rest of the top 10.

1. Miami Heat (21-8) – Miami may only have the league’s fifth best record at this point, but they’re still favored by many to repeat as NBA champions. Furthermore, the Heat defeated the league’s current number one club – Oklahoma City – just a few days ago. LeBron James (26.3 PPG), Dwayne Wade (20.4 PPG) and Chris Bosh (18.0 PPG) are scoring over 60% of the team’s points right now.

2. L.A. Clippers (25-7) – After winning 17 straight games, the Clippers finally dropped a contest on the road to Denver. Based on this red-hot streak, we like the Clippers better than anybody in the crowded West. Five Los Angeles players are averaging double digits with Blake Griffin leading the way at 17.8 PPG.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (24-6) – Following back-to-back road losses against Minnesota and Miami, the Thunder have rebounded by winning three straight games. With the West so muddled, Oklahoma City is really going to need their mediocre bench to step up more.

4. San Antonio (25-8) – The Spurs have kept pace with the NBA’s best clubs after winning their last six contests – most of which were blowouts. San Antonio’s balance is definitely impressive since seven players are averaging at least 9.5 PPG; Tony Parker leads them all with 19.3 PPG.

5. New York Knicks (21-10) – The last eight games have been rough on the Knicks since they’ve lost five of these contests. What’s particularly bad about this is that only three of the games have been on the road – and none were against truly elite teams. Things don’t get any easier since the Knicks will face San Antonio on Thursday.

6. Atlanta Hawks (20-10) – Atlanta has been seesawing in December, but lately, they’re doing pretty well. The Hawks are winners of four out of their past five games. This team doesn’t score a lot of points – Josh Smith paces the scoring with 16.6 PPG – but they do play some pretty good defense. A healthy Horford has been difficult for opponents to deal with this year (15.9 PPG, 9.8 RPG).

7. Golden State Warriors (21-10) – Thus far, Golden State has been the surprise of the year. Few people picked the Warriors to make the playoffs, but they’re currently fifth in the West right now. Both Stephen Curry (20.0 PPG, 6.5 APG, 1.5 SPG) and David Lee (20.1 PPG, 11.0 RPG) are propelling this team to success.

8. Memphis Grizzlies (19-9) – Memphis drops a couple spots from our last power rankings after losing three of their last four contests. Memphis is really going to need some increased scoring production since they’re averaging just 94.7 PPG. Unfortunately, the Grizzlies don’t have much bench production since Quincy Pondexter leads non-starters with 6.7 PPG.

9. Indiana Pacers (18-13) – One of the NBA’s hottest teams right now is Indiana. They’ve won eight of the last 10 games and are starting to resemble last year’s team which went 42-24. The Pacers have especially victimized below .500 teams since they’re 15-2 against these clubs.

10. Houston Rockets (17-14) – The Rockets stay in our power rankings for the second week in a row – despite losing two out of the last three games. However, it is worth noting that both losses came against San Antonio and Oklahoma City. James Harden is having a career year with his new team as he’s scoring 26.1 PPG.