In their penultimate game of the regular season, the LA Clippers will enter Houston to take on the Rockets on Friday at 6 p.m.
It’ll be the second game of a back-to-back for LA, having played the night before in Charlotte (beating the Hornets 113-90). As of Thursday night’s postgame interview, Head Coach Tyronn Lue is “not sure yet” if he’ll elect to rest his stars; he said he’s going to consult with his training and sports science staff before making a decision. The Clippers will have a week off after the regular season concludes on Sunday (the playoffs begin on May 22), and they’d ideally hope to win out in order to retain the no. 3 seed in the Western Conference, though the matchups are still in flux. It’ll be interesting to see if Lue elects to tax Kawhi Leonard and Paul George now with that week off in mind.
A player Clippers fans desperately hope will play against Houston is Serge Ibaka. Lue said pregame that Ibaka will “hopefully” make his long-awaited return against the Rockets, though nothing is set in stone. The center has missed the Clippers’ last 30 games due to “lower back tightness,” a nebulous diagnosis from the LA Clippers’ PR staff. It is encouraging to hear that Ibaka is nearing a return, as he’ll need his legs under him when the postseason begins. Lue has confirmed that Ivica Zubac will remain the starting center entering the playoffs regardless of Ibaka’s status, but Ibaka will be crucial as a backup center that can hold his own defensively.
For Houston, Danuel House Jr., Kevin Porter Jr. and Christian Wood will all miss Friday’s matchup, as all three are dealing with ailments involving their ankles. John Wall is also out for the remainder of the season due to a hamstring tweak. The Rockets have long since been eliminated from the playoff picture, and will be forced to swap their draft pick unless they land in the top four in the lottery, so they are incentivized to lose (though the players and coaching staff will no-doubt be trying their hardest). The Clippers should have no problem walking away with a win, assuming George and/or Leonard play.
How to Watch
Matchup: LA Clippers (47-23) at Houston Rockets (16-54)
Date: Friday, May 14
Time: 6:00 p.m. PST
Venue: Toyota Center
Broadcast: NBA League Pass
Spread: Clippers -10.5
Moneyline: Rockets +440, Clippers -600
Point Total: O/U 227
Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook