Two teams, each with an All-Star duo, will battle at the Staples Center on Friday night, as James Harden, Russell Westbrook and the Houston Rockets (11-4, third in West) will take on Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the LA Clippers (10-5, fourth in West).
Here is a preview for Friday night’s heavyweight battle, along with odds and a free pick.
By The Numbers
We’ll start with Houston, where once again, no team in the NBA is attempting more threes. Despite shooting just 33.9 percent from beyond the arc, the Rockets average a league-leading 15.5 threes per game. They are playing at the third-highest pace of any team in the league but rank just 23rd in field-goal percentage, mainly because of their three-point shooting. But Houston is still third in points per game with 117.9, all while allowing 113.1 points per game.
Los Angeles is a team that’s very even across the board. The Clippers are 12th in the NBA with a .457 field-goal percentage, while also ranking 11th in free-throw percentage and 18th in three-point percentage.
The Clippers do excel in rebounding the basketball, though, sitting second with 48.5, 11.4 of which are on the offensive glass. Playing at a pretty average pace, LA is 12th in points per game with 112.4 and 10th in points allowed as well at 106.4.
What To Watch
All eyes are on the superstars playing in this game. Starting with the Clippers, they’ll play just the second game all season where Leonard and George are on the court together. The two of them won their debut as a duo Wednesday against the Celtics.
George finished with 25 points, eight assists and five rebounds, while Leonard scored 17 points and blocked Boston’s shot at the final buzzer. Now they’ll be forced to go head-to-head with Harden, a league MVP candidate, and Westbrook, a former MVP who George spent last season playing with in Oklahoma City.
And speaking of Harden and Westbrook, each of them are coming off down games. Harden finished with 27 points, seven assists, seven rebounds, and eight turnovers, while Westbrook scored 25 points on 8-for-22 shooting as the Rockets lost on Wednesday to the Nuggets, snapping their eight-game winning streak.
Harden previously had a streak of eight straight games with 36 or more points and leads the league with 38.4 points per game. Now we’ll see if they can each rebound against two of the league’s top defenders in Leonard and George.
Odds And Pick
In a game that has one of the biggest-expected scoring totals on Friday’s schedule, the Clippers are slight favorites at home, listed at -4.5. Even though LA won in Leonard and George’s on-court debut, I still think they need to get a little more time on the court together before the team really starts hitting their stride. I just think Houston’s pace and overall scoring ability will be too much Friday night, so I’m picking the Rockets +4.5 to steal one on the road.
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