Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Clippers Preview

By: Ravneet Singh

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

It’s tough to predict this series to some extent, because we saw only five games of what the Rockets can do this year with a healthy Howard and Jones. Chris Paul injury aside, both teams are playing their best basketball of the year. There should be some interesting match-ups to keep our eyes on, especially the guard play.

Chris Paul’s Game 7 performance was legendary. I believe years from now we will remember and respect what exactly he did in that game. But to do what he did in that game consistently for the next two weeks will be difficult. Hamstring and muscle injuries in general are tough to manage while playing. Rest is needed as much as possible and with this series starting on Monday, Paul won’t get it.

He won’t have to deal with the pesky Beverley and instead will face the ageing Terry and Prigioni. Both point guards aren’t great defenders, so it’s still scary for Houston if they have to go against Paul. They could, however, try Harden on Paul. Mostly, this job seems like it should be Brewer’s. He’s their best perimeter defender, and the Rockets don’t have to stress about the Clippers’ small forwards.

McHale will worry about guarding Paul, but Doc might lose his mind trying to find ways to stop Harden. Defending for the Clippers has been a constant problem all year long. Their best perimeter defender is Paul, who won’t be at his full strength. Barnes doesn’t have the quickness to deal with Harden, though he does have the length. And Harden is bigger and stronger than Reddick.

Looking at the regular season meetings between these two teams, we see that Houston struggled on the boards. That might not be an issue with Dwight playing the way he is (Howard didn’t play in any of the 4 games).  Both these team like to play up-tempo, as you can see by the number of fast break points. This is likely to translate into some fun run-and-gun basketball.

If only Paul was 100%. The Harden-Paul match-up would be must see basketball on both ends, and this series would maybe go 7 games. Sadly, Paul’s injury may dictate how this series will end up. One would also have to think that the Clippers are tired after such as battle against the Spurs. Houston is rested, (mostly) healthy, and hitting on all cylinders.

Rockets in 6