After edging the five-time
It's true that Rockets guard
The Rockets and Clippers each won 56 games in the regular season, finishing tied for the league's third-best record. The Rockets were awarded the second seeding in the Western Conference and the accompanying homecourt advantage in this conference semifinal series against the third-seeded Clippers by virtue of winning the Southwest Division.
The Clippers have dominated Houston in recent seasons, winning 11 of the last 14 games. But the Rockets won the final two games between the teams this season and Howard did not play in any of the four games in the series this season.
"Obviously, they have a good thing going," Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. "James has had an unbelievable year, Dwight had a huge series against Dallas and really all the way down the line. They're a great team."
Here's a closer look at the Clippers-Rockets matchup:
Guards: Paul and
Forwards: Griffin and
Bench: Clippers Coach
Coaches: Rivers versus
Intangibles: The Rockets showed remarkable consistency by not losing more than two consecutive games in the regular season. The presence of Howard (a 52.8% free-throw shooter during the regular season), Smith (52.1%) and Jones (60.6%) could provide the Clippers with three counter options should the Rockets try to intentionally foul Jordan (39.7%) as San Antonio did throughout the first round. The Clippers were plus-seven in situations when the Spurs intentionally fouled Jordan. Edge: Clippers.