Team: LA Clippers (12-18) at Houston Rockets (25-5)
Time: Friday, December 22, 2017 at 8:00pm ET (Honda Center)
The long awaited match-up between Chris Paul and his former team won’t be happening tonight. While NBA fans have been clamoring to see how Chris Paul performs against the Clippers, he’ll be missing the game due to a groin injury.
Even without Chris Paul, beating the Rockets will still be an incredibly daunting task for the short-handed LA Clippers. The Rockets are a very respectable 11-4 without Chris Paul. The team just had their 14 game winning streak snapped, and will be looking for blood tonight against the Clippers.
Meanwhile, the Clippers are starting to gel more, but are still missing 3 starters. Tonight will be an incredibly tough game to win, but here’s how they can have a chance.
The Clippers can not afford to be careless with the ball at all. Houston is the 2nd best stealing team in the league (9.3), and the 4th best team at capitalizing in points off of turnovers (18.9). Any turnover against Houston will most likely result in an automatic basket.
When the Lakers beat the Rockets on Wednesday, the Lakers turned the ball over only 10 times. It’ll be hard for this young Clippers team to take care of the ball, but it’s possible. They were able limit their turnovers to only 9 against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.
Defend the Three
This may be an impossible task for the Clippers, but in order to beat Houston it has to done. The Houston Rockets are both an offensive juggernaut, and a historic 3 point shooting juggernaut. The Rockets are the #2 offensive team in the league at 115.3 PPG, much of this is due to their three point shooting. Houston leads the league in 3 point percentage (41.5), three pointers made (479), and has the top three 3 point performances of the season.
Surprisingly the Lakers beat the Rockets, despite Houston hitting 17/42 from three. However, the short-handed Clippers don’t have the firepower of the Lakers, and need to contain Houston.
Last week, the Clippers struggled mightily at defending the Miami Heat from three, who are the second best three point shooting team. Hopefully LA has watched the footage, and learned how to close out properly.
Prediction: If the Clippers can hold Houston to 13 threes, they will win the game.