Nov 9, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) and Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) battle for a rebound during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Throw Out the Regular Season:
The teams enter the series both having won 56 regular season games and having split the series against each other. Chris Paul‘s health no doubt will be the lead story entering Monday night, but there is some interesting sub text to the match-up specifically tied to personnel.
- Game 1 on November 28, 2014 was won by the Clippers: 102-85. Missing for the Rockets in this game: Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones, Patrick Beverley and neither Corey Brewer or Josh Smith had joined the squad yet.
- Game 2 on February 11, 2015 was also won by the Clippers (110 – 95) who were without Blake Griffin, but once again there was no Howard or Jones and the Rockets were playing on a back to back
- Game 3 on February 25 went to the Rockets who won 110-105 who played without Beverley and Howard.
- Game 4 was a hotly contested Sunday match that the Rockets won 100-98 and were without Howard while the Clippers were without Jamal Crawford.
It’s interesting to note the players who weren’t with the team early in the season factored into the 2 wins occurring later in the season. Yet, the main factor has to be the Clippers didn’t get to see big man Dwight Howard all season and while they can prepare for him, can they truly be ready for the rejuvenated Howard who showed up versus Dallas.
Is This The Hack-A Series?
We joked about Rick Carlisle likely utilizing the Hack-A-Strategy, but entering this series it could turn ugly quickly since both Kevin McHale and Doc Rivers could utilize it on each other. DeAndre Jordan had to be taken out of Game 7 until the 2:00 minute mark just so Popovich couldn’t foul him and stall the Clippers offense. If Rivers chooses to employ the same strategy we could find ourselves watching Dwight Howard, Josh Smith and Clint Capela take steady trips to the line while McHale counters by sending Jordan to the line. Let’s just hope by the end of the series we aren’t referring to it as the Hack-A-Series.
Next: The Numbers Don't Lie