We look to notch a third-straight NBA winner tonight with the Houston Rockets visiting the Los Angeles Clippers. The Rockets are resting a bunch of guys - but not The Beard. Can Harden alone carry them to a road win?
We got back on the winning track yesterday thanks to some late heroics from the Oklahoma City Thunder to add a W to Russell Westbrook’s record-breaking day. The Thunder put the death nail in the Nuggets postseason coffin with a spectacular 25-14 fourth quarter to win 106-105.
And I officially give up trying to make a case for anyone other than Russell Westbrook as the league’s MVP. If you don’t vote for him at this point, you are just being a counter-culture contrarian who likes to argue and find some faux-sophistication. The guy is amazing, and he is DIRECTLY TRANSLATING TO WINS. Harden’s team has the better record, but Russell had literally WILLED the Thunder into the postseason and to a competitive season with wins in the high 40’s.
His near-final salvo tonight was a 50/16/10 MASTERPIECE, made even more masterful by the fact that every single stat he complied was in the context of absolute necessity to WINNING the game. Oh, and the whole 36-foot game-winning buzzer-beater thing too… that was pretty good.
But you already knew Russ was amazing. What transpired in Atlanta was jaw-dropping. The Cavaliers were outscored 44-18 in the fourth quarter, including surrendering the final five points in regulation in less than seven seconds to eventually lose 126-125 in overtime. In the big picture, the loss may not end up costing the Cavaliers anything, but it was pretty jarring to see them give away a game in such spectacular fashion with the ability to clinch homecourt right on their racquet…
Today’s NBA Pick:
Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers -6
This one is as simple as the old NBA “who cares tonight” theory, though in 2017, it has been rewritten to the more appropriate “Who Cares?!?” tonight. Houston has nothing to play for, other than trying to show a little life and build a little momentum before their tough series with Oklahoma City. The Clippers are still battling and jostling with the Jazz for home court in their upcoming series, plus getting used to playing together again after yet another injury-riddled regular season.
In truth, if we through out the records and just look at each TEAM as currently constructed, I think the Clippers are the better squad. If we also factor in home court advantage, motivation and the fact the Rockets are listed as resting Eric Gordon, Lou Williams and Trevor Ariza, the edge becomes even more stark.
Yes, Harden is still playing, but he isn’t LITERALLY a one-man team; it just feels that way some games. The Rockets don’t have enough on the floor tonight to win in LAC. I’ll take the Clippers and gladly eat the half dozen points.
Today’s Pick: LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS -6