The beat keeps rolling in Los Angeles. The Clippers won their 17th straight and also covered last night hosting the Jazz. Looking down the road at their upcoming games, things are going to be pretty challenging if they want to reach twenty-plus. Their next two games are road games at Denver and at Golden State and then they host the Lakers in an emotionally super-charged game. Can you imagine the fanfare in LaLa Land if the Clippers are sitting at 19 straight when their big brother/roommate Lakers “come to town”? Complete chaos. Let’s hope it gets to that point…
Meanwhile, let’s ring in the New Year with another winner…
Atlanta Hawks at Houston Rockets -4 (Total: 205.5)
The Hawks have been playing decent basketball, winners of four straight, but there is a big difference between hosting some Eastern Conference foes and going on the road against a Western Conference opponent. Houston has been excellent at home at 11-6 this season, and has done well against Eastern Conference opponents.
Houston had a nice five-game winning streak going until they ran into the Spurs and Thunder. Those are two losses that most every team in the NBA takes, especially on back-to-back night. I imagine the Rockets might be a little relieved to see a team without a +.700 winning percentage tonight. Even nicer is the news that the Hawks may quite likely be without the services of Josh Smith tonight.
Houston is one of the highest scoring offenses in the league, averaging over 105 points per night. It will be an interesting contrast of styles tonight, as the Hawks prefer to grind it out a bit more and Houston prefers to get the ball up and down the court. Assuming the home team’s style prevails, I don’t think Atlanta has the same firepower the Rockets possess, nor do they have an answer to counter James Harden (especially since Joe Johnson departed in the offseason).
Houston is 5-0 ATS in their last five home games and they are 4-0 ATS in their last four games as a favorite between 0.5 and 4.5 points. They have also won four straight against the Hawks, including a 109-102 win earlier this season in Atlanta.
Houston has been a pretty solid bet this season at 17-13 ATS overall, and I like them to not only win tonight to ring in the New Year, but also cover the relatively slim four point margin.
Free Pick: Houston Rockets -4