Los Angeles Clippers (0) vs. Houston Rockets (0)
6:30 p.m. PST
May 4, 2015
FOX Prime Ticket/ TNT
Video of the Day
It’s a new series but let’s just live in this moment, again.
1. With just 48 hours between series, how much will the comedown from Saturday’s Game 7 against the Spurs affect the Clippers in Game 1?
Michael Pina, (@MichaelVPina): The emotional transition is an underrated obstacle. But more of an issue is Chris Paul’s health, and the wear and tear L.A.’s entire starting lineup saw in that brutal first-round series. Many are picking the Clippers to win the series, but I’m not sure how they’ll win Game 1.
J.D. Evans: I imagine quite a lot. Between the incredible emotional toll and the fact that the Clips played an eight man rotation, and the likelihood that they’ll be playing without CP3, I’d be shocked if they were in Game 1 for more than a quarter. I know they’re professionals and all, but surely they’ll look at the opponents and just wonder why they’re bothering to even play this series, not because the Rockets aren’t good, but because there’s relatively little at stake.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): A pretty decent amount, especially if Paul can’t go in Game 1. See how much the Hawks struggled in the second half against the Wizards? Maybe we can blame that on a quick turnaround, a Sunday afternoon Game 1 to follow a Friday evening clincher. Now, the Clippers have a little more time between series, but certainly not much.
2. Will Dwight Howard continue his renaissance in this series?
Pina: Yes. This dude is back. He’s scary. DeAndre Jordan should have his work cut out for him going against the only center in the league who rivals him on an athletic level, while coming in as a superior force on both ends.
Evans: He could well do. Jordan is a younger version of Chandler, but it’s not as if Chandler’s done; perhaps Dwight can keep it rolling. On the other hand, he might not get a chance: expect a lot of hacking, from both teams. Maybe McHale and Doc can get together and agree to destroy one game entirely, just so the league pushes through a tiny, just rule change: fouls away from the ball can result in free throws, or in a side out of bounds.
Katz: Sure. Why not? People forget how fantastic Dwight is because of the mostly irrational hate often thrown in his direction. The last time Howard was this dominant was probably last year’s playoffs. His ’09 postseason was as dominant as any in recent memory. His performance against the Hawks in the 2011 first round was unforgettable. Howard is one of the best postseason players of his generation. It’s time we stop getting surprised when he does this every spring.
3. Prediction time: who wins this series and in how many games?
Pina: Rockets in 6.
Evans: I will be wholly original here and say it depends on how much Paul can play. With him at 100%, I’d say Clippers in 6. If he’s not close to himself by game 2, the Rockets should probably win in 7.
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