The Los Angeles Clippers enter tonight’s game against the Houston Rockets as a 5.5 point favorite. They weren’t able to come back home with a 2-0 series lead, but they shouldn’t hang their heads with a split. They now have home-court advantage, and have a chance to win both their next two games at home. The one dark cloud over the Clippers’ heads is that their all-star point guard, Chris Paul, is still uncertain for tonight’s game. He injured his hamstring in game 7 against the Spurs, and hasn’t played since.
Clipper’s coach Doc Rivers said that everything is going well in terms of his workouts with the team, but it will come down to a game time decision. Still, the Clippers showed they can win, and win on the road, without him. Austin Rivers will start again tonight in Paul's place, even though he has more fouls (6) than assists (5) in this series so far. In game 1 he had 17 points, but he scored just 10 on Wednesday and committed a huge turnover when they were down four points and had just 37 seconds left to play. MVP runner-up James Harden had a better game 2 for the Rockets than game 1. He scored 16 of his 32 points in the last quarter, and that was coming off his 20 points in game 1, which was his season-low for the playoffs this year. Dwight Howard is hitting just 43% of his free throws in these playoffs for Houston, so it is very possible the Clippers keep fouling him throughout the series.
Houston definitely does seem to have the momentum and confidence back, and I think they will build on that. That, coupled with the fact that Paul will likely be out, or at least not 100 %, seems to be that game 3 tonight belongs to the Rockets. The Clippers have some confidence after knocking out the defending champion Spurs, but these are still the Clippers, and haven’t really proven anything in their history as far as going deep into the playoffs, and I think this year will be no exception.