The 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
GTBets.eu 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.
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.
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