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Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Clippers: First matchup preview

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 10: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 10: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
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How do the Rockets compare to the Clippers with the season approaching soon?

The Los Angeles Clippers are an opponent that should be pretty familiar for the Houston Rockets. With all the players involved in a trade for CP3 this summer, there will be some old friends in enemy territory. Who will have the advantage in their first matchup come December 22?

Quick note: this post is the first of a series going over the matchups against every team in the league. Be sure to stay tuned to Space City Scoop to see the rest of them leading up to the season!

Projected starting lineup comparison

Houston Rockets

PG: Chris Paul

SG: James Harden

SF: Trevor Ariza

PF: Ryan Anderson

C: Clint Capela

Los Angeles Clippers

PG: Patrick Beverley

SG: Austin Rivers

SF: Danilo Gallinari

PF: Blake Griffin

C: DeAndre Jordan

Analysis

Assuming that everyone is healthy, the battle between these two starting lineups will be pretty fun and high scoring. The Rockets have the advantage in the backcourt, while the Clippers have the advantage in the frontcourt.

Chris Paul and James Harden are a far better duo than Bev and Rivers (no offense, Pat). However, Beverley does have an elite-level defense that will help him out in this matchup against one of the guards. With all things considered, though, the Rockets have two stars in the backcourt while the Clippers have none.

In the frontcourt, the Clippers have a pretty big advantage (like they do against most teams). The two star big men they have at the power forward and center positions are overpowering at times on both offense and defense. With no true point guard in the starting lineup, however, Jordan may be less effective this season. He will rely heavily on the playmaking of Blake Griffin at times. Jordan’s defense will still be a problem for the Rockets, too.

As far as the small forward position goes in the frontcourt, Ariza is a great defensive player and Gallinari is a great scorer. Both players fit perfectly into their roles with their respective teams, so we will call them an even match.

The loss of Chris Paul will be rough for the Clippers next season. Beverley or Rivers will have to step up and try to fill that void. For that reason mainly, the Rockets should find success with their starting lineup over the Clippers.

Overall Starting Lineup Advantage: Rockets, but it’s fairly close

Let’s move on to the projected bench lineups of the two teams.

The Bench

Rockets

CP3/Harden, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, Luc Mbah a Moute, Nene Hilario

Clippers

Milos Teodosic, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker/Wesley Johnson, Montrezl Harrell, Willie Reed

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Analysis

The Rockets seem to have a pretty clear advantage here. Their stacked bench is good on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Coach Mike D’Antoni has made it clear that he wants CP3 or Harden on the court at all times, so that adds another weapon on the floor with the bench unit.

The Clippers still have a decent bench comprised of several former Rockets involved in the trade for Chris Paul. Lou Williams is a scoring machine when hot. Dekker, Harrell and Reed are young players that will improve. Milos Teodosic is a big question mark but can flat out pass the basketball. Will the historically bad Clippers bench be able to put it all together this season?

Bench Advantage: Rockets

Other Considerations

The Rockets and Clippers games will have a little bit of bad blood behind them. Former players from both sides will be looking to make an impression on their previous team.

The first game is in Houston, which means that CP3 will have to wait to have his return to Los Angeles.

Both teams are well-coached by historically good bench bosses. Mike D’Antoni and Doc Rivers have both won Coach of the Year awards in their careers.

Season Series Predictions

Last year, the Rockets and the Clippers played three times, with the Rockets winning the season series 2-1.

The Rockets and Clippers will play four times in the 2017-2018 season. I predict that the teams will split the season series 2-2, with each team winning a road and home game. The games will be fun to watch and will all be nationally televised.

For the first matchup, look for the Rockets to spoil Beverley’s return to Houston and take a win.

Be sure to stay tuned to Space City Scoop for the rest of this series showcasing matchups against every team! They will be released until the season starts! Be sure to let us know in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter what we can do to improve the series!

Next: Tilman Fertitta Buys the Houston Rockets

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