Rockets vs. Clippers Betting Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions: Will Houston’s Defense Show Up?
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George (13), Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13).
Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions
- Spread: Clippers -5
- Over/Under: 235.5
- Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: TNT
Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150). No strings attached. No rollover required.
With the four superstars in this matchup — Kawhi Leonard, Pau George, Russell Westbrook and James Harden — all coming from Southern California, this game is a mini battle of Los Angeles. The Rockets won the first matchup and lost Round 2 by a small margin. How with this matchup shake out?
Our NBA staff breaks down how their betting this game below.
Bryan Mears: How I’m Betting This Game
The Rockets are a pretty weird team. They remain a potent offense and beat this Clippers team in their first matchup, although that one was without Paul George (with Kawhi Leonard, though). In the last 10 days, however, they’ve dropped home games to the Kings and Pistons.
The defense has really struggled in that five-game stretch, allowing 112.3 points per 100 possessions, mostly to bad offenses. The offense has still been great, scoring 115.0 points/100, but the defense has been a roller-coaster all year, which is scary against the Clippers.
That’s probably why the over has been hammered today, with steam moves on the over at 233 and then again at 234. The line has moved up from 233 at open to 235 at the time of writing.
There’s also a decent argument for the under, however, which my colleague Justin Phan made in our new Labs NBA Insider tool:
“The Rockets’ pace has slowed down significantly as of late, and they’ve had three of their four slowest-paced games this season over the past 10 days. The Clippers returned from a six-game road trip and are back at home, where they boast the league’s best defense (99.2 DRtg). Patrick Beverley has spent more time guarding James Harden than any defender this season, and Harden has shot just 1-of-7 from the field in this matchup. Also keeping an eye on the Clippers spread should it get under 5.”
Another interesting angle here is the math problem: The Rockets remain first in the league for the millionth consecutive season in 3-point rate. The Clippers, however, are just 13th in shots at the rim and 20th in 3-point rate. The Clips get to the free throw line often, which helps their efficiency, but they are reliant on mid-rangers and hitting tough shots.
Both teams also allow a bunch of 3s, ranking in the bottom-eight in 3-point rate allowed, although both have solid opponent 3 FG% marks. The Rockets let opponents get out in transition at a high rate. Perhaps the math problem is muted in this one: The Clips should get good looks at the line and in transition, even if the Rockets are taking more 3-pointers.
It’s also unclear whether the Rockets will be a good shooting team this year. They’re just 26th in 3-point FG%. James Harden is fine at 35.9%, and PJ Tucker remains a great shooter at 42.1% (he takes most of his shots from the corner), but the rest of the team has been poor. Russell Westbrook has been especially bad, hitting just 22.8% (!!) of his 3-pointers on the year.
In the second matchup between these teams this season (yes, this is already their third matchup), the Clips took it, 122-119. The Clippers dominated at the rim and in transition, and notably they had both Kawhi and PG.
I think that combination should prove too much for the Rockets outside of an outlier shooting night from Houston. In the first matchup, Kawhi really struggled from the field. Tucker played awesome defense on him:
In that clip, Westbrook also cheated aggressively off Patrick Beverley, bothering Kawhi’s shot.
And here, Tucker just plays great defense on Kawhi:
Tucker can give him problems, and that’s valuable for the Rockets, but it’s less of a big deal with George playing. Further, the Clips are getting healthier with shooters like Landry Shamet and Lou Williams, which could limit how aggressively they can help off the perimeter.
I don’t have a strong opinion on the total, but I do like the Clips, especially if it drops below -5. — Bryan Mears
Bet: Clippers -5
Matt Moore: Clippers Depth > Rockets Talent
I’m on the Clippers here, for a few reasons, and assuming everyone plays, which, who knows?
The last game was close, but I also think that was the Rockets’ best chance of stealing one. The bench units play a huge role here. Without Harden on the floor, the Rockets go to pieces, and they don’t have the defensive backbone to manage the Lou Williams-Montrezl Harrell connection.
The Clippers are a top-five team defending transition. Home teams in the top five at transition defense per Synergy Sports are 42-22-2 (66%) this season per Bet Labs. Take away the easy stuff and make teams beat you with halfcourt set-up jumpers.
Houston has been inconsistent, and every time we think they’re fine they lay an egg and every time we think they’re doomed they get a big win. But the Rockets have also simply been inconsistent and on the road vs. a top-tier Clippers team getting less than two possessions, there’s no value.
The sharps are on the Rockets as of this writing, with 60% of the tickets on the Clippers and 52% of the money on Houston. There will come a time when I will want to tail the sharps, but so far this season, when the dog is getting the majority of the money and the public is on the favorite, the favorite has covered 55% of the time. Sharps are, however, 5-4 fading the Clippers in that spot this season.
Still, I’ll take the Clippers at home at full strength. — Matt Moore
Bet: Clippers -5
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.