Two of the most exciting teams in the NBA square off on Thursday night as the Houston Rockets visit the Los Angeles Clippers. Houston is coming off one of their most impressive victories of the season earlier this week, setting a franchise record by overcoming a 25-point deficit in a 109-107 win over the San Antonio Spurs. The Rockets held their Texas rival to just 35 points in the second half.
The Clippers have won five of their last six games including a 120-99 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night. Los Angeles improved to 14-1 at home, with the only loss coming back on November 7 in a 129-124 setback against the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks. JaMychal Green will miss Thursday’s game with a back injury. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Patrick Beverley are all expected to play.
ESPN’s FPI gives the Clippers a 64.0% chance of winning this game. We break down the line and offer our best bets and analysis for Thursday’s matchup between the Rockets and Clippers.
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Rockets vs. Clippers Game Details
Date: Thursday, December 18
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Location: Staples Center (Los Angeles, California)
TV: TNT, AT&T SportsNet Southwest
Spread: Bucks -5.5
This line opened at Clippers -5.5 and has held firm at most books with the majority of the bets coming on the Rockets but a slight majority of the money coming in on Los Angeles. The lack of line movement in this game makes it hard to determine if there is any sharp action.
- Rockets are 18-9 SU and 12-15 ATS this season
- Clippers are 21-8 SU and 17-12 ATS this season
- Under is 16-11 in Rockets games this season
- Under is 17-12 in Clippers games this season
Analysis & Picks
This game is all about tempo. The Rockets and Clippers feature two of the fastest offenses in the league. Houston is ranked 2nd in pace and the Clippers are 6th, so I expect a lot of shots to be taken in this game. We’ve seen the total get pushed up from 233 to 235 and I have reason to believe it could touch 236 by game time. The last time these two teams played, a 77-point fourth-quarter pushed the game over the total in a 122-119 Clippers win. I can see a similar situation playing out in this game, as both teams will be trading blows throughout. Paul George has scored 97 points in his last three games and is really starting to get into a rhythm with his new team. James Harden leads the league in scoring and is averaging 42 points in the two prior games against the Clippers this season. Harden is also averaging 40.4 points over his last 10 games and is a good bet to eclipse the 40-point plateau tonight. I can’t decide on a side here, which but the total looks just right. Take the over as I expect both teams to touch 120.
PICK: Over 235
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith