Down 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
Austin 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
As 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