The Western Conference semifinal series between the Houston Rockets (62-30, 26-18 away) and Los Angeles Clippers (63-31, 34-13 home) features two teams that have been on the cusp of NBA greatness for years.
Now with Game 6 taking the series back to Los Angeles tonight (10:30 PM Eastern), the Clippers are leading 3-2 and hoping to end it at home. In order to do that, L.A. needs to get more help from their secondary scorers. In Game 5 in Houston, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul accounted for over half of L.A.’s scoring, with 30 points (and 16 rebounds) and 22 points (and ten assists) respectively. However, the Clippers were also weak defending their own basket.
“It was our defense,” Paul told the team’s official website. “Sometimes it was bad offense that led to bad defense.”
That bad offense included a 9 for 41 game between J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford, and Austin Rivers.
As for the Rockets, naturally the team was led by James Harden, who had 26 points, 11 rebounds and ten assists.
“They kind of embarrassed us twice in L.A., so we knew could play a lot better and we did tonight,” Harden told ESPN.com.
In an odd twist, while the Rockets have been using a Hack-a-Shaq strategy to send Clippers center DeAndre Jordan to the free-throw line, in Game 5 Los Angeles targeted Dwight Howard. The Rockets center ended up 6 of 14 from the free-throw line, but still scored 20 points and added 15 rebounds in the game.
Nevertheless, regarding Game 6, look for the Rockets to feel emboldened by last game’s win. Considering Houston is 6-4 in its last ten games (and 26-18 in away games on the season), the best value looks like the Rockets’ moneyline (+346).
(Photo Credit: By Verse Photography (Flickr: 20131118 ClippersvGrizzles27) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)