The NBA season is moving along, now just under two weeks before Christmas. The Western Conference is where the action is, and three contenders are jockeying for position.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Brooklyn Nets
Thursday, 8:05 PM ET
Odds: Clippers -3
Back in the beginning of the season, this would have looked like a very interesting matchup on paper, but that was then. Now, this game is likely to be a totally one-sided affair in which the Clippers should give a thorough beatdown to the Nets. The Nets have given older players a chance to go on with their careers. That may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but there was a reason that Boston was willing to let them go and start the Celtics’ rebuilding process. Why did the Celtics let Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce move on? They’ve gotten old. The other factor that is such a cause for concern with the Nets is that Deron Williams has not been the same since he had surgery on his ankle. He may never be as good as he once was. This is not the first time that this has happened to a great player, and it won’t be the last one, either. Yet, it has happened to Williams.
When looking at the other side of this matchup, the Clippers are not quite where they are supposed to be, but there is a sense in the NBA that they are well on the way to being a better team. In order to become a bigger threat in the NBA, they have to beat teams that are struggling and not performing up to par like the Nets. The Clippers should not have much of a problem covering the point spread in this case.
Pick: Los Angeles Clippers
Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Thursday, 10:35 PM ET
Odds: Trail Blazers -3.5
This game will be the much more interesting of the two on this night. On one side is another of those very powerful, young, up-and-coming Western Conference teams, the Houston Rockets. Led by James Harden and a solid supporting cast of players such as Chandler Parsons, Patrick Beverly, and Jeremy Lin, the Rockets have a lot of perimeter threats. Then there’s Dwight Howard and his defense in the paint. Head coach Kevin McHale is guiding a balanced team with all of his hard-won knowledge and experience. The Rockets’ resources make them a tough opponent for anyone.
On the other side are the Trail Blazers, who looked good before the season started, but not this good. This team is playing above expectations and doesn’t seem to be about to stop anytime soon. They have the powerful backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews, and in the frontcourt it almost for once looks as though they’re overloaded with big men. LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez are all backed up on the bench by Joel Freeland and Thomas Robinson. Portland is 9-2 at home and this is most likely to be the only kind of advantage that either team has over the other to take into this game. Give the Blazers the nod on the betting lines in this game.