May 17, 2015 (Posted at 11:00 AM ET)
Take the UNDER 220 total points in LA Clippers vs. Houston Rockets risking 3% of the bankroll.
This has been one of the most entertaining and drama-filled series of the playoffs! After digging themselves into an early 3-1 hole, it appeared that the Rockets postseason run was all but over. At that point many had written them off, but Houston managed win Game 5 on their home court to at least close the gap on their opponents and make it a respectable series. Many expected the Clippers to close out the series at the Staple Center in Game 6 and they were well on their way with an 11 point lead heading into the final quarter. What happened next can only be summed up to the magic of the NBA playoffs as the Rockets rallied and managed to outscore the home team 40-15 over the final 12 minutes to force this Game 7. For the Rockets, it breathed new life into their series and for the Clippers it marked one of the biggest defensive collapses of modern day postseason history. That was a collapse of epic proportions and if the Clippers happen to lose this game this afternoon, they will surely point back to the fourth quarter of Game 6 as the interval that cost them a place in the conference finals!
There is no doubt that not only Doc Rivers but the players themselves are upset about the way this team played down the stretch. Losing a game such as that makes everyone to take a long hard look and what happened and essentially forces them to make that a primary concentration the next time out. The Clippers had a huge breakdown on the defensive end after playing so well this entire series. For the most part they had held the high powered Rockets offense in check and simply by taking a full quarter off, they now realize what can happen when they get complacent on the defensive end. After the way game 6 ended we fully expect the Clippers to put forth a much more focused effort on the defensive end for this game and not allow something like that to happen again.
As for the Rockets, lack of defense had been what had dug them into a 3-1 hole in the first place. Blown assignments, easy baskets and allowing the Clippers to dominant in the painted area were a huge liability for Houston. They had given up over 110+ points in this series up until game 6, but still gave up 107 in that win. The Clippers will no doubt still be steaming after how they allowed Game 6 to slip through their fingers and will no doubt try to get back to what had allowed them to dominant early in this series and that is feeding the ball to their big men down low. The Rockets will need to be at their best on the defensive end in order to slow down the Clippers. They can ill afford to get into a shootout at this point in the series where nearly everyone is hurting from injuries and no doubt fatigued.
Kevin McHale has used numerous strategies in this series and has seemingly changed his game plan for each contest, some have worked and some have failed miserably. They have tried the Hack-A Jordan approach, then they have tried to simply turn a game into a shootout and outscore their opponents, they have tried turning one game into a 3 point shooting contest, and they’ve tried feeding Dwight Howard in the paint. The only game plan that McHale has not tried this series has been playing solid defense. We expect that to change for this contest. The Rockets have worked incredibly hard to force this Game 7 and we don't believe they will simply allow this game to get into a shootout. There are no second chances after this game; this is it and we feel that Houston's best chance at winning this game is by being the more aggressive team on the defensive end and disrupting the flow of the Clippers pick and roll. The Clippers meanwhile will no doubt be focused on the defensive end as well after their poor performance down the stretch in Game 6. This will result in a much closely contested, lower scoring game than we have seen thus far in the series.
Defense has certainly not been a deciding factor in any of the games this series, but this is Game 7. This is a completely different situation and we expect the mindset of both the coaches and players to be different as well. As any expert handicapper will tell you, handicapping sports has very little to do with following current trends. Trends are important but they are data that is based on past events. In order to become a true exert, you have to be able to not simply rely on past information, but have to be able to use that information to anticipate what will happen in the future and when exactly it will happen. Given the fact that every game this series has gone Over, the betting public will once again be expecting another high scoring affair. However, we don't believe that will be the case. The odds makers could have arguably set this total 10 points higher and people will still blindly be betting on a high scoring matchup simply because they are following a recent trend. This is a dangerous mindset to have and all too often in sports betting are things as they appear. Often times things play out radically different than what the betting public "expects" and we believe this is one of those times.
Every meeting between these two teams this season has gone Over, including their 4 meetings in the regular season. What we find interesting however is that none of the regular season meetings had this high a total. In fact neither meeting of those 4 games had a combined score of over 215! We feel that is a more realistic expectation of how this game will end. With so much on the line for both sides we expect a much increased defensive effort, which should aid in the final score coming just a few points under the total.
The association has assigned its best refereeing staff to call this game. Ken Mauer Tony Brothers & Mike Callahan are all veterans and as respected as they come. This is a group who has overseen numerous high profile games and with this being such an important Game 7, we expect them to let the players play and be a little bit more lenient with their whistles, which is extremely important. We have seen both teams spend a lot of time at the free throw line which had been a major contributing factor to a couple of game this series going Over. IF the referees let both teams play and there are less of those “ticky-tack” fouls called, it will take points off the scoreboard and keeps things to a reasonable scoring level.
Lastly, overtime is always a possibility even if an unlikely. While it is an unfortunate possibility, it cannot and should not be expected since the percentage of games that don't end in regulation are far and few in between. If this game can avoid going to overtime, we feel that this numberis inflated and a couple of baskets too high. Take the 'Under' as the masses are expecting a repeat of previous games and betting the opposite but will likely find themselves disappointed when the 48 minutes expire.
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