Fri, Dec 22, 5:25pm by Staff Writer
The Western Conference heavyweights are in action this weekend.
The Clippers travel to Houston to take on the Rockets, while the Lakers will do battle with the Warriors.
The Rockets will be looking to bounce back from their surprise loss to the Lakers earlier in the week. On the other side of the equation, GSW will be hoping to keep their streak alive heading into the holidays.
LA Clippers at Houston Rockets
Saturday, 23 December 2017, 12.00pm at Toyota Centre, Houston
The Rockets will be without their good luck charm Chris Paul for their clash with the Clippers this weekend. Paul an off-season signing from the Clippers, will have to wait a little while longer to catch-up with his former team on the court.
The Rockets could use a player of Paul’s finesse after their shock mid-week loss to the Lakers (122-116). There was some concern from the Rockets, as Paul left early in the fourth period.
Houston coach Mike D’Antoni was quick to play down the seriousness of Paul’s injury, calling it a “strained left abductor.” The injury was unrelated to Paul’s bruised left knee, that kept him on the sidelines for a month.
Paul leads the Rockets this season with 9.3 assists per game.
Without Paul, James Harden will be the focal point against the Clippers.
Harden had 51-points in the loss to the Lakers. At this stage of the season it’s hard to look past ‘The Beard’, as the MVP favourite.
This will be a tough clash for the Rockets who will be without a number of players on their bench. Bench forward Luc Mbah a Moute is out with a dislocated shourlder, and big-man Clint Capela is also in doubt. The Rockets potentially could only have six regular rotation players available.
The injury depleted Clippers had some joy this holiday season with a solid win against the Suns (108-95). DeAndre Jordan had 20 rebounds and Austin Rivers had 21 points.
The Clippers have a history of struggling on the road. With injuries to key players its hard to see them picking up a win in Houston.
The Rockets have one of the best records in the Western Conference this season, just shading the Golden State Warriors.
The Rockets are good value to win by 1-10 points.
Expect James Harden to have a night out against a young Clippers line-up. Harden will be looking for another 50+ points to get the Rockets over the line for the win.
Best Bet: Rockets Big Win/Little Win 1-10 points ($3)
LA Lakers at Golden State Warriors
Saturday, 23 December 2017, 2.30pm at Oracle Arena, Oakland.
The Lakers continue to show promise after a surprise win against the Rockets. They may not be hitting the lofty heights of the showtime years just yet, but this group continues to improve.
The steady hand of Lakers coach Luke Walton continues to bring improvement in rookies Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball.
Kuzma had a night out against the Rockets, hitting a season-high 38 points. Lonzo Ball contributed 16 points and 9 rebounds. The Lakers continue to hang onto the idea of making the playoffs this season.
The Warriors head into the game against the Lakers with question marks over Draymond Green, Andrew Iguodala, Zaza Pauchulia and Shaun Livingston. Steph Curry is still sitting on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
The Warriors have shown their championship calibre this season winning their last ten games. What makes this more impressive is that seven wins were on the road.
The Warriors will look to Kevin Durant to lead the line against the Lakers. KD has been a revelation with Curry on the sidelines. Durant added 22 points in the win against the Grizzlies. Coach Steve Kerr will be looking to KD, and Klay Thompson to give the Lakers a reality check.
The Lakers have shown that they can match it with the Warriors this season, with two games decided by a margin of four points or less.
KD and Klay Thompson will use their experience to close out this game. It will be a tough contest for the Warriors, but their experience will get them over the line.
The Lakers have shown some major improvement this season, but it won’t be enough against the champs.
Take the Warriors for the close win.
Best bet: GSW to win by less than 10 points.
*Sportsbet odds will be posted when they become available
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