Rockets to trade Ty Lawson?

ty-lawson-rockets-tradeWhen the Houston Rockets traded for Ty Lawson last July, they thought they were getting a big upgrade at point guard. After all, Lawson averaged 15.2 PPG and 9.6 APG as a member of the Denver Nuggets last year. Unfortunately for the Rockets, Lawson has only been a shell of his former self, averaging 5.9 PPG and 4.2 APG while shooting just 32.9 percent from the field.

So it should be little surprise that Houston is now looking to trade Lawson, who’s struggled to fit in with his new squad. And it doesn’t help that the Rockets are off to a poor 13-14 start after making the Western Conference Finals last year. But will Houston ultimately pull the trigger just one third through the regular season? Or will they wait to see if Lawson eventually turns things around? Let’s discuss the matter below by covering both why the Rockets should and shouldn’t trade the 27-year-old.

Lawson has not played well alongside James Harden

Perhaps the toughest thing for Lawson has been fitting in alongside shooting guard James Harden, who dominates the ball. In Denver, Lawson was used to running the show, as evidenced by his 9.6 APG last season. But in Houston, he merely brings the ball up the court while most of the offense runs through Harden. Obviously Harden isn’t going anywhere; so if they can get something back for Lawson they are likely to jump at a deal.

This situation goes both ways too because the rumor is that Lawson isn’t happy with his role in Houston right now. The matter is only made worse by the fact that he’s in a contract year and if things don’t turn around soon, Lawson will have much less value in the free-agent market. That said, the 5’11” point guard is unlikely to fight the opportunity to showcase his talents on a different team.

It’s unclear if Houston would get much back for Lawson

ty-lawson-rockets-trade-1The Rockets are only beginning to shop their unhappy point guard, but it’s doubtful that they’ll find many interested teams. Lawson has played really badly this season, and his value only further diminishes when you consider his two DUI’s — the last one earning him a two-game suspension.

Another aspect to consider here is that Lawson’s $13 million contract is up following this season, which would give Houston tremendous wiggle room in the offseason. They could use the cap space to find the perfect fit for their team while it’s still a championship contender. So unless the front office finds a good player in exchange for Lawson, they’re unlikely to give him and his expiring contract up.

The Rockets will be making a Trade of Some Kind

As ESPN reports, Houston is very excited about being able to trade for restricted free agents. Over 110 players who signed contracts last summer will be eligible for trades come Jan. 15. And general manager Daryl Morey, who thought he already had a championship-caliber roster, will be one of the most-eager execs looking to deal.

Lawson will certainly be one player whom the Rockets are willing to part with for the right assets. However, they’ve also reportedly talked about dealing Corey Brewer and Terrence Jones for disgruntled Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris. It’s unclear exactly who Houston will end up landing when Jan. 15 comes around. But you can guarantee that they’ll tweak their roster in some way so they can compete for the title again.

Clippers vs Rockets Game 7 Betting: Can Houston close at Home?

houston-josh-smithOnly eight teams in history have come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Playoffs – and the Houston Rockets are looking to be the ninth. Houston seemed hopelessly lost while losing games 3 and 4 in blowout fashion to the L.A. Clippers. However, they’ve proven to be very resilient, coming back from a 19-point deficit in Game 6 to force one final game.

This is certainly bad news for the Clippers, who must now travel to Houston and try to win the series that they seemed to have in the bag after going up 3-1 in L.A. The good news: Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul are a perfect 3-0 in Game 7s. Furthermore, they’ve proven that they can win big road games, having done so twice in San Antonio during the first round.

The stage is set for one very intense final contest between these two teams. So let’s look at the Clippers vs Rockets Game 7 betting line, then discuss who has the advantage:

Game Time: Sunday (May 17th) at 3:30pm ET on ESPN Betting LIne:
L.A. Clippers -2.5 (-110)        Over 219.5 (-110)
Houston (-110)                      Under 219.5 (-110)

It’s interesting that the Clippers are still favored on our betting line, despite the fact that they’re playing on the road. But are they deserving of the favorite billing – especially after losing a 19-point lead with just 14 and a half minutes left!? Let’s answer this question by looking at some key factors.

History favors the Rockets

If there’s one big thing going in Houston’s favor, it is the simple fact that almost 80% of home teams win Game 7s. Of course, it isn’t like Houston was the resounding number-two seed in the Western Conference; they earned this honor on the final day of the regular season in a scenario that tested the math buffs. But the simple reality is that the final game will be played at the Toyota Center, in front of the Rockets’ fans.

chris-paul-injury…But the Clippers are Amazing on the Road

If there’s one team that is totally road-proof in these playoffs, it is definitely the Clippers. They won a franchise-record 26 road games – more wins than five NBA teams had total – and the two games they captured in San Antonio were while facing 2-1 and 3-2 deficits. It’s hard to discount home-court advantage and the 80% figure, but it’s even harder to look past this tough L.A. team.

…But History really hates the Clippers

The L.A. Clippers have been around for 45 years, and in those 45 years, they have NEVER reached the Western Conference Finals. Some might call this extra motivation for Griffin, Paul and Jordan to push their team past the Rockets tomorrow night; others might say that they’ll lose and the Clippers curse will continue. After all, this is a team that’s become accustomed to first and second-round playoff exits over the years – that is, when they’re not suffering through embarrassing regular seasons.

corey-brewerHouston’s Bench has stepped up, Clippers Bench sucks

James Harden had one of his worst games of the season (5-for-20 shooting) and spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench with an illness. This gave way to Houston’s bench to provide some illness of their own, with Corey Brewer pouring in 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting, and Terrence Jones adding 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Mix in 19 points from unheralded starter Josh Smith, on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc, and you can see why Houston was able to outplay L.A. down the stretch. On the other side, the Clippers bench once again had a horrid performance, shooting 6-for-22 from the floor.

Chris Paul is looking Healthy

On the bright side, Paul has looked good on the floor after missing the first two games of the series with a hamstring injury. He played exceptionally well in Game 6, hitting 10-of-19 from the floor and making 10 out of 11 free throws to total 31 points. Blake Griffin was also great, making 12-of-20 shots and scoring 28 overall. If they can keep up this torrid performance and actually get some bench scoring, then it’s going to be the Clippers advancing.

Final Score Prediction: L.A. 109 – Houston 105

Clippers vs Rockets Game 6 Betting: Clippers Big Favorites

houston-vs-clippers-game-6The theme in the L.A. Clippers and Houston Rockets playoff series has been blowout victories so far. And Game 5 was no different, with the Rockets taking an easy 124-103 win on their home court. This was a must-win game for Houston to stave off elimination, but can they do so again in Los Angeles? We’ll discuss this question in a minute, but let’s first look at the Game 6 betting line:

Game Time: Thursday (May 14th) at 10:30pm ET on ESPN Betting Line:
L.A. Clippers -8.5 (-110)     Over 220.5 (-110)
Houston (-110)                   Under 220.5 (-110)

The Clippers currently lead the series 3-2, and they’ll be looking to wrap things up on their home floor. Considering the generous -8.5 betting line that they’re receiving, it would seem likely that they’ll do so. But then again, this is the NBA Playoffs we’re talking about – not a mid-March game between the division leader and division doormat. So this contest could be far closer than people anticipate. That said, let’s break down what to expect tonight from Game 6 between the Rockets and Clippers.

james-harden-vs-clippersJames Harden is doing it all

Last game marked a career milestone for Harden since he recorded his first playoff triple-double: 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Once again, Harden didn’t have a lights-out shooting performance, hitting just 1-of-8 three-pointers and 9-of-20 shots overall. Furthermore, he had 5 turnovers and zero steals. But you kind of have to overlook the negatives any time a guy records a triple-double in the postseason – especially when he’s playing with a cold. It’ll be interesting to see if Harden can come out with another do-it-all performance tonight and help his team force a Game 7.

The Clippers Bench must play Better

One huge reason why L.A. lost Game 6 so badly is because their bench was terrible. The bench shot a combined 10-for-31, and this figure would look far worse if Spencer Hawes hadn’t made 5-of-7 shots. Jamal Crawford (2-for-10) remains in an awful shooting funk while Austin Rivers (3-for-11) wasn’t helping out much either. Even starters J.J. Redick (3-for-12) and Matt Barnes (1-for-8) had bad shooting performances too. Assuming L.A. has off-nights again by so many crucial players, they won’t be closing the series out.

Blake Griffin can’t be stopped

On the positive side for L.A., nobody on the Rockets can contain Blake Griffin. He’s shot 54.3% in this series while averaging 26.6 PPG and 13.4 RPG; so Tuesday’s 12-for-21, 30-point performance certainly wasn’t any surprise. Houston has tried a number of combinations to slow down Griffin, namely Josh Smith and Trevor Ariza, but it doesn’t look like they can do much to stop the 6’10” power forward.

corey-brewerHouston’s Bench stepped up

As a team, the Rockets shot 54.1% and got good all-around performances from mostly everybody. However, it’s worth noting that their bench really did a solid job at extending the lead and making sure Houston won on their home floor. Terrence Jones and Corey Brewer both shot 5-for-8 from the field, while Clint Capela was a perfect 4-for-4 when spelling Dwight Howard. If the Rockets can do this again, then they have a very good chance at winning tonight.

L.A. needs Players to stay Healthy

The Clippers have home court and the perfect opportunity to move on to the Western Conference Finals. But much of this will depend on the health of their players. Chris Paul’s hamstring is still a concern, while Matt Barnes (shoulder), Glen Davis (ankle) and Rivers (hip) are all hurting too. If all of these guys can play close to 100% tonight, then L.A. should have enough firepower to win.

Final Score Prediction: L.A. 113 – Houston 105