Houston will finish off a short three-game West Coast trip by playing the Clippers at 10:30 EST in the Crypto.com Arena. They’ve dropped the first two games on this road trip to the Suns and Jazz. Overall it’s been a very rocky season for the Rockets as they’re on a six-game losing streak and hold the worst record in the western conference at 15-42. On the Clippers’ side, they’ve managed to stay in the playoff race despite long-term injuries to their two best players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
The Clippers are 29-31 for the season and are 4-6 in their last 10 games. An interesting note is that this will be the first matchup of the season between these two teams but it surely won’t be the last. They’ll have a back-to-back matchup very soon on Feb. 27 and March 1, both games in Houston. Not all too many key players are out of the lineup for either side (not counting players with season-ending injuries). Rookies Usman Garuba and Daishen Nix are out for the Rockets. Jason Preston, Jay Scrubb, and Norman Powell will be unavailable in tonight’s game for the Clippers.
How The Houston Rockets Can Win:
Watch Dennis Schröder put in WORK in his first start as a Rocket 👇 pic.twitter.com/T7auOscdSi
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) February 17, 2022
With the exception of a seven-game win streak in late November through early December, the Rockets have been a free win for the majority of their opponents. They hold a 7-24 record on the road this year. Houston is also 27th in offensive rating at 107 and dead last in defensive rating at 116. The stats and the eyes say that the Rockets have been bad so how did they manage to win some games in that previously mentioned stretch. Well, their offense turned up the heat and they scored 115 points or more in six of the seven wins during that span. One big-time player for Houston in those games was Christian Wood who averaged 18 ppg and 12 rpg and shot 49% from the field and 48% from three. The Clippers give up the 26th most paint points in the NBA so Wood must be a force down low in this game. Their x-factor should be Jalen Green who’s capable of having an explosive night scoring the ball.
How The Los Angeles Clippers Can Win:
Gearin’ up for game day. pic.twitter.com/vNlQtGNpsP
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) February 17, 2022
Even without the stars, the Clippers have been able to ride the ship just enough and are in a position to make the play-in tournament right before the All-Star break. It’s been a true group effort and they’ve done it with an extremely well-balanced attack. The defense from the Clippers has been special to watch. They are No. 7 in defensive rating at a 108.5 mark for the season. They do a great job at defending the three-point line as they are fifth in opponent three-point percentage and allow them to shoot just 33.7%. Reggie Jackson, despite being an inefficient scorer has been the offensive leader in a lot of games. He’s the main ball handler and initiates the offensive sets that Ty Lue draws up. One x-factor is Terance Mann. When he scored 15 points or more in a game the Clippers are 11-4. In addition, the Clippers are 12-5 in games where Mann shoots 60% or better from the field.
The Spread Via FanDuel:
Clippers -11 (-650 ML)
Rockets +11 (+450 ML)
Final Prediction: Clippers 112, Rockets 97