We got back on track with an easy winner yesterday afternoon as the Los Angeles Clippers rolled past the Utah Jazz at Staples, winning for the eighteenth time in twenty games in the head-to-head matchup. The Jazz have taken HUGE steps forward this year, but yesterday’s loss has to scare Jazz fans for two reasons. First, it edged the Clippers back in front of the Jazz in the race for home court in their all-but-certainly impending #4/#5 matchup. Secondly, if this is the matchup (and it IS), it is hard to see such a radically dramatic shift in the head-to-head dynamic that allows the Jazz to win four of seven games.
But that was far from the biggest news in the NBA yesterday. The biggest story was Washington going into Cleveland and whipping up on the Cavaliers, 127-115. Does it mean they can win a series against LeBron? Quite possibly not. But it certainly introduces the question in a very legitimate fashion. The Cavs are certainly vulnerable and beatable, and the Wizards proved it LOUDLY yesterday at The Q.
The Marquee game today is Houston and James Harden hosting his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder at 3:30 on ABC. Here’s my take on today’s action.
Today’s NBA Pick:
Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets -6.5
Oklahoma City has survived life post-KD far better than I expected. But the difference is most evident when they leave home and venture into enemy territory. They are a lousy 14-20 straight up this season, and only one game better at 15-19 ATS.
Meanwhile, Houston is about as good as it gets at home, posting a 27-9 home record and having won seven of their last eight home games and going 7-2 SU in their last nine games as a favorite. And keep in mind, the biggest problems for Oklahoma City has been playing teams better than them. They have fattened up against the bottom half of the league, but once they meet teams with multiple stars, having “just Russ” isn’t enough. They are 7-13 ATS as a road underdog this season with a disturbing -10.6 ppg differential. That’s a big discrepancy.
I’ll take the better team at home, even laying a half dozen. Given the team’s respective splits, it is a fair line. I liked it better at -6, but even at -6.5 or -7, I am still on board with the Rockets today. I think they’ll enjoy an opportunity to showcase their wares on ABC – a nice chance to let people know the West is more than just “Wait for Warriors and Spurs in six weeks.”
Today’s Pick: HOUSTON ROCKETS -6.5