The end of the NBA regular season is near and the Saturday schedule is highlighted by the Los Angeles Clippers vs. Houston Rockets. Both teams will be missing out on the NBA post season and will have little to play for.
As the 2010-11 campaign comes to an end, the Clippers are still dealing with problems at the defensive end that is preventing them from consistently keeping pace with opponents. And the lack of true effort and subsequent inability to keep opposing players off of the glass was instrumental in the Clippers squandering another opportunity as they lost to the Thunder. Now they will be confronted with the challenge of beating the Houston Rockets.
While it hasn’t exactly been feast or famine at the defensive end for the majority of the season, the Clippers have succeeded, and stumbled, equally against the league’s weakest and strongest opponents. And considering the various lineups head coach Vinny Del Negro has been forced to use due to injury and the February trade of Baron Davis, the culprits are found throughout the roster when it comes to letdowns at one point or another on defense.
The listlessness has then frequently resulted in opponents destroying the Clippers on the glass by repeatedly grabbing offensive rebounds that nary a Clipper is in sight to snatch for himself. Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins feasted on the one-on-none rebounding opportunities he was given by pulling down 10 offensive boards, and his team ended up with 19 in all as the Clippers did not box out and lost track of their men once a shot went up.
Defense may not win the Clippers a championship next season, but it will certainly go a long way towards putting them back in the Western Conference picture. And perhaps simple actions, such as smoothly shuffling to stay with opponents and putting a body on someone when a shot is fired up, are the answers to the team’s quest for another playoff berth.
The NBA sports betting odds have the Rockets listed as a favorite for this matchup. The Rockets want to end the season on a high note and will beat the Clippers. The future looks great for the Clippers, but for now the Rockets are the better team.
NBA Pick: Houston Rockets
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