The LA Clippers continue their journey to the Western Conference finals after a close and well fought game 7 victory which ruined the San Antonio Spurs’ chances at a NBA finals repeat. Chris Paul left the game early in the first quarter due to a hamstring injury, but the offense of Jamal Crawford kept the Spurs defense busy as he picked up the slack in the absence of Paul–who returned back to play most of the second quarter. The big story this time around was the Clippers’ bench which finally paid dividends after solid contributions from Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, and Glen Davis.
Chris Paul proved to be a tough player after fighting through a hamstring injury and providing crucial minutes through the end of the game.
Both teams have size and are defensively efficient, but only one will advance to the Western Conference finals. So which team will it be, the Clippers or Rockets? Team S.U predicts the next round of the NBA playoffs.
GM 1: LAC at HOU, May 4, 9:30 PM ET TNT
GM 2: LAC at HOU, May 6, 9:30 PM ET TNT
GM 3: HOU at LAC, May 8, 10:30 PM ET ESPN
GM 4: HOU at LAC, May 10, 8:30 PM ET TNT
GM 5: LAC at HOU, May 12 TNT
GM 6: HOU at LAC, May 14 ESPN
GM 7: LAC at HOU, May 17
NBA Western Conference Predictions: Clippers vs. Rockets – And the Winner is ?
Keith Rivas (Editor): Assuming Chris Paul is healthy wealthy and wise for this series I am looking very forward to seeing these two teams clash for a chance at the conference title game.
This will give James Harden the shot he rightfully deserves to call himself the league’s MVP and the only better situation I can think of is if the Rockets formally introduce themselves to the Warriors in round three.
All in all, I’ll take Houston this time around.
Prediction: Houston (4-2)
Jr. Williams (NBA Editor): I think James Harden and Co. would prefer this matchup over the Spurs, as the Clippers lack bench depth and rely heavily on Chris Paul to run the offense. Paul sank some epic shots during game seven versus the Spurs but I think he will find himself chasing a youthful Rockets team looking to run and gun their way to victory.
Although the Rockets have a hole at the point guard position, James Harden does an excellent job at distributing the ball, penetrating to the basket, and knocking down shots at the charity stripe–meaning he should have his way versus the Clippers.
Prediction: This series should be entertaining and could very well go at least six games, but I think the Rockets will prevail (4-2).
Sauping R. Arguello(NBA Contributor): The Los Angeles Clippers were able to pull out a series win versus the former World Champions, San Antonio Spurs in an epic seven game duel. This was exactly the confidence booster they needed to believe they can get to the next level. The Houston Rockets will be rested and ready to face LAC after defeating the Dallas Mavericks in five games. I’ll be the first to admit I picked the Mavs to win the series but did not estimate Rajon Rondo and Chandler Parsons being non factors. Much credit to the Rockets for taking care of business and advancing to the semis.
This will be James Harden’s opportunity to prove he is MVP worthy. I feel he will get whatever he wants as Matt Barnes, J.J. Reddick, and Jamal Crawford will have the primary responsibilities of guarding Harden. Chris Paul must exploit the mismatch versus Jason Terry as Houston, will again, sorely miss the defense of Patrick Beverley. Blake Griffin will also get whatever he wants if he establishes his jumper, opening up his post play versus Josh Smith and Terrence Jones. I believe the center match up will be fun to watch.
Two defensive minded bigs who block shots, rebound, finish above the rim and shoot horrible free-throws in Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan will mirror each other on the court. It’ll be interesting to see if both teams implement the hack-a-Shaq technique simultaneously. Both benches are pretty thin as I think the starters will determine the outcome of this series.
Prediction: I’m taking the Clippers in another 7 game series (4-3)