Wed, Mar 1, 3:21pm by Staff Writer
The Dubs head to the windy city hoping to stop the raging Bulls, while the Rockets lead by James Harden head to LA hoping to put another dent in the Clippers fragile armour. We have done our homework to give you the inside running on the midweek hardcourt action.
Rockets @ Clippers
Staples Centre, Los Angeles – Thursday March 2, 2.30pm AEDT
TV: Live on ESPN
The Rockets blast into LA hoping to smash the Clippers after a shock loss 117-108 loss to the Pacers earlier in the week. James Harden and the Rockets will be looking to make amends for the off-night against Indiana. Harden’s numbers have been down of late, hitting .341 percent from the field over the last three games. The MVP candidate will be looking to keep pace with Russell Westbrook for the end of season award.
Houston emerged from the trade period as one of the big winners with the acquisition of Sixth Man of the Year contender Lou Williams from the Lakers. Williams allows the Rockets to spread their offence across the floor and take the heat off Harden. Williams comes to the Rockets shooting a respectable 18.6 (PPG) in just over 24 minutes of court time per game. With Williams on board the Rockets have shown the Western Conference that they are prepared to go all in to challenge the Warriors and they are still in the hunt for the second seeding, 4.5 games behind the Spurs.
But against the Pacers earlier in the week the Rockets struggled for rhythm at both ends of the court after the break. After blowing a 17-point lead, Rockets coach Mike D’Anonti called on his team to toughen up. “We have to be mentally tougher and more focused.”
The Clippers continue to make an impression after the All Star break, with Blake Griffin hitting a career high 43-points in a 124-121 OT win against the Hornets. JJ Redick scored 22 points and De Andre Jordan added 20 points backing up Griffin.
The markets may favour the Clippers but the Rockets are good value for the upset considering they boast the second best offence in the league. This is just the ninth time in 62 games this year where they have started as an outsider. Take that value while you can.
BEST BET: Rockets to win at $1.99.
Warriors @ Bulls
United Centre, Chicago – Friday 3 March, 12.00pm AEDT
TV: Live on ESPN
Are we seeing the first chinks in the Warriors armour? Kevin Durant hyper extended his knee in the game against the Wizards earlier in the week, and it’s too soon to tell if he will suit up against the Bulls, but you’d think he’d be in some sort of doubt. The Warriors will be hurting from the 112-108 loss in that match, after they conceded 40 points in the first quarter and trailed by as many as 19.
Steph Curry hasn’t become strangely unreliable from beyond the arc hitting just two of 20 in his past two games.
The concern for Warriors Coach Steve Kerr is that his side shot under 30% from three-point territory for two consecutive games. The last time that happened was December 11-12, 2015. The last time they lost consecutive regular season games was April 2015.
The Bulls had strung together four wins, including one over the champs Cleveland – who were minus LeBron James – before they fell flat against the Nuggets on Wednesday, losing 125-107.
Jimmy Butler had a tough night, manging just eight points on 3-15 shooting, but Rajon Rondo stepped up off the bench with 19 points,
The Warriors should start hot favourites. They lost four previous games in 2017 and each time bounced back with a big wins, including a 123-92 drubbing of the Bulls on February 8.
Even with Durant in doubt, the Dubs won’t be looking to lose back-to-back. Curry will use the challenge to step-up and lead the scoring against the Bulls. I’m tipping the Warriors to close out the game, but having lost their last four matches at the line, we’ll be playing them by 1-10 margin.
BEST BET: Warriors to win by 1-10.
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