May 12, 2015 (Posted at 5:00 PM ET)
Take Houston Rockets at +3 spread against LA Clippers risking 3% of the bankroll.
Much like our play on the Golden State Warriors yesterday, we feel that certain reasons again apply here. After two consecutive blowout defeats, the betting public has fallen in love with the Clippers and has forgotten what a solid team the Rockets are! This is a group that managed to win the toughest division in the NBA (a division that had 5 playoff entrants including defending champs Spurs) and a roster that finished 2nd in the loaded and competitive Western conference! This is a team that has rarely lost consecutive games this season, let alone 3 in a row!
Houston's a deep squad has a ton of character, passion, pride and is full of experienced players. Their backs are no doubt against the wall in what is a must win game tonight. A loss and that is the end of their season. Whether they can manage to claw their way back into the series and advance past the Clippers is not the question at this moment. They cannot win this series in a single game but what they can do is not get dominated for a third straight game, especially in front of their demanding home crowd at the Toyota Center! After consecutive routs, we expect a bounce back effort from Kevin McHale's ambitious group. They no doubt want revenge and can't have their season come to a disappointing end tonight.
The Rockets played poorly in the last couple of games. Harden, Brewer, Smith, and Howard, all could have performed much better than they have thus far. Howard had his worst performance of the playoffs in Game 4 and let his teammates down. We expect him and the rest of the Rockets to come out with a chip on their shoulder tonight. The Rockets defense has been nearly non-existent in this series as they have given up 110+ points in back to back games! This was a unit that fared quite admirable during the regular season however and is capable of playing much better. With so much on the line, we don’t expect them to be humiliated yet again and have their once extremely promising season that even had them compared to the 1996 championship winning team end this way!
The Clippers are likely to win this series but not this game and that's why we don't believe they should be favorites in this particular spot. Yes, LA has dominated the Rockets in the previous two meetings, however that if anything makes them more comfortable and Houston much more desperate and hungry for a win. This is a classic "false favorite" situation. Everyone wants to back the Clippers and will pay a premium price for it; much like many did with the Grizzlies last night. Doc Rivers and his squad however have 3 chances to close out this series and this is by no means a must-win game for them. It is quite likely that the mentality of the two sides will be quite different in this matchup. Lob City is likely to take its foot off the gas pedal a bit tonight especially with key players like Chris Paul and Matt Barnes among others carrying nagging injuries. It would be much more likely that the Clippers get up and be motivated to close out the series at the Staples Center in Game 6 when they have home court advantage. We doubt that they will give 100% and may be compacent or more concerned with avoiding injuries.
We expect this to be a much closer contest than the previous two and believe that Houston has numerous advantages entering this game. They will be extremely motivated to not only stave off elimination but to settle a score with the trash talking Clippers who've gotten the better of them. There was a reason why oddsmakers opened the Rockets as favorite in this contest despite their recent performances. The betting public has moved this line significantly and we believe they will end up getting burned by it. The Rockets are a live underdog and even if they fall short, the points could well come into play. MVP runner-up James Harden and his side have a point to prove and will not want to suffer another humiliation.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Houston is 29-17 ATS at home this season.
- Houston is 13-4 ATS after a loss by 10 points or more this season!
- Houston is 14-4 ATS in home games after 3 or more consecutive games going 'over' the set total.
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