Thursday, November 7th, 2013
The Clippers head into Miami with the tough task of knocking off the defending champions at home, somewhere they have been quite adept at in recent years.
The Doc Rivers experiment in L.A. has been a success so far as the Clips have dominated so far, at least offensively. At 3-2, Los Angeles leads the NBA in scoring with just over 124 points and has shot over 50 percent from the field as a team.
After dropping 137 points on Houston in a win on Monday, the Clippers stumbled in a road loss to Orland on Wednesday evening, losing 98-90. Chris Paul continued his tear as the best point guard in the NBA this season, posting his fifth straight double-double in the loss.
The Heat post an identical record of 3-2 and after a slow start to the season they are looking for their third straight win. Their last game was Tuesday, a 104-95 win at Toronto. Reigning MVP LeBron James led the team in scoring in the game and is off to another hot start. King James is shooting 58 percent from the field and scoring 25.6 points per game to start the year.
Chris Bosh will return to action in tonight’s game after missing the contest in Toronto. He was out for the birth of his child and not held out for injury reasons.
It is hard to like the Clippers in this spot even if you think they match up well against Miami. Their frontcourt stands to be better, but the Heat are shooting lights out and they have the best player in the league. Furthermore, Miami’s game is hard on teams coming off back-to-back games, even younger teams like L.A. Their transition game is the best in the league, and they will run the already tired clippers ragged.
Pick: Heat -5
After losing a franchise player last season the Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets have struggled to start the season. Denver looks for their first win in this contest while the Atlanta tries to get over the .500 mark.
At 2-2, the Hawks have struggled with consistency to start the season but are coming off a 105-100 victory at Sacramento on Tuesday. Al Horford and offseason pickup Paul Milsap combined for 52 points in the win. So far, the defense has been solid for Atlanta, but their rebounding has been noticeably worse since the loss of Josh Smith. They will need to improve in this area and may have trouble with Denver’s bigs in this matchup.
The Nuggets have played among the fewest games in the league at three as they look to get their first win. Part of the reason is the lack of continuity in an offseason of change for the franchise. Andre Igoudala left in free agency. Head coach George Karl was fired, and they are still without two key players in Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari who are both nursing injuries.
Their last game was on Tuesday, a 102-94 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Point guard Ty Lawson has shouldered much of the scoring load this season so far. He notched 20 points, and 8 assists in the loss to lead the Nuggets.
The Hawks certainly look like the better team coming into tonight’s matchup, but it is hard not to give the edge to the Nuggets. They should be able to crash the boards with Kenneth Faried and Javelle McGee and power behind their home crowd to get their first victory. This isn’t my favorite play of the night, and I think it could come down to the wire, but I expect Denver to pull away and win this one.
Pick: Nuggets -3
Ah, the game everyone is waiting for this week. The Lakers head to Houston to take on Dwight Howard and the Rockets, only a few months after Howard left the Lakers to join Houston via free agency.
After a disappointing season in L.A. where the Lakers got bounced in the first round, Howard left for the Rockets, a team that has started off the season with a bang and a 4-1 record. James Harden and Dwight Howard have looked like quite the combo through the first few games.
Howard had a monster game on Tuesday in Portland, scoring 29 points and 13 rebounds to go with Harden’s 33 points. With Dwight patrolling the paint and drawing double teams this has freed up the perimeter for open shots.
With Kobe Bryant still sidelined the Lakers have had a rough start to the season. There was plenty of optimism surrounding the team after an opening night win against the cross town L.A. Clippers, but that has faded after the team has gone 1-3 since the opening night win.
The Lakers rank near the bottom of the league in opponent field-goal percentage, scoring, and turnovers. In two back to back road losses, L.A. has dropped their last two road contests by 50 points combined. Their most recent loss was a 123-104 loss at Dallas.
Neither of these teams play much defense as can be judged by the high total in this one at 218.5. Still, I think the play is the Rockets -13. Though it is a high number for early in the season, Houston is better at every position on the floor, and the Lakers have been absolutely abysmal on the road so far. Don’t let the early season win against the Clippers fool you, this is a terrible basketball team.
The Rockets should win this one easily and be up big at halftime. This one should not be much of a game.
Pick: Rockets -13