Though it’s been turbulent times for most teams this season, what with all of the extra injuries, the players being forced into quarantines because of COVID protocols, and games being postponed for the same reason, the Houston Rockets put them all to shame with the topsy-turvy time they’ve been having. The team has started 4-8 and just last week unloaded the guy who has been the face of the franchise for the better part of the past decade.
Free Picks: Houston Rockets vs. Phoenix Suns
Retooling Rockets Ride Oladipo To At Least A Cover (Season Betting Record: 15-17)
You’d think that would spell a rocky road ahead, but the Rockets were able to parlay James Harden’s acrimonious departure into a great package centered around one of the most underrated guards in the game today in Victor Oladipo. Dip made his Houston debut a few days ago on Monday, putting up 32 points, nine dimes, and five boards but falling just short of the win against the Chicago Bulls.
While he probably won’t match what the Beard did in his first two games in Brooklyn, we expect Oladipo to come darn close to that after Monday’s display. In their last three games, the porous Suns backcourt defense has given up: 17 points and 10 assists to Ja Morant, 34 and 9 to Bradley Beal, and 22 and 9 to Malcolm Brogdon. Phoenix clearly can’t defend athletic, playmaking guards that can create their own shots, so the first of our NBA picks for this matchup will be to take the over on Oladipo’s 29.5 Points + Assists prop at solid -120 odds (22Bet).
Our second pick for this Wednesday night Western Conference clash will be an NBA point spread play, but which struggling team are we to choose? Is it best to go with the underdog Rockets, who have just retooled their roster and have lost four of their past five games, or the favored Suns, who have collapsed with a 2-4 record over their past six games after having started 5-1.
The tough thing about betting on these new-look Rockets is that without Harden there, most of the betting trends for this matchup are pretty much useless. There are a few choice stats and trends that can help point us in the right direction, however. One would be the lack of much defensive talent or effort in Phoenix’s backcourt in the face of what seems to be a rejuvenated Oladipo.
The biggest one, though, will be a mismatch in the paint that will favor Houston. Houston will be able to hide its awful paint defense (49.2 points allowed in the paint per game, fifth-most) going up against Phoenix’s paltry paint offense (37.2 paint points per game, second-fewest), something the Rockets can’t usually do.
Two of Houston’s best players (especially while John Wall is out) are also seven-footers (or near enough) in DeMarcus Cousins and Christian Wood. On Wednesday, they’ll be going up against the Suns’ Deandre Ayton, who’s been the fifth-worst defensive center in the league this season as measured by his surprisingly poor 115.7 defensive rating.
We like Houston to win based on these advantages, but with Chris Paul in the mix for the Suns, close games are always a tough call, which is why the six-and-a-half-point cushion the handicap gives us makes this Rockets spread play one of the best bets for today.
- Phoenix is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as the road favorite
- Victor Oladipo amassed 32 points and 9 assists in his Rockets debut
- Houston is 7-0 SU in their last 7 games hosting Phoenix
- Phoenix is 1-13 SU in their last 14 games against Houston
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The Los Angeles Clippers will renew hostilities with the Dallas Mavericks, who they dispatched in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets and the league’s presumptive NBA MVP will look to get off to a strong start against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1.
The Golden State Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies in the final play-in game, which will determine the Western Conference’s eighth seed.
The Washington Wizards will host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night with the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference on the line.
Alex is an alumnus of Ryerson University's RTA Sport Media program, a contributing NHL, NBA, and MLB writer in the BetPicks.ca team. He has been writing on sports, betting, and fantasy contests for several years, including pitstops as an NFL Editor for theScore and as one of the lead NBA news writers for fantasy sports site FantasyPros. As a lifelong athlete, bettor, and sports fan, Alex is uniquely qualified to help you reach the sports betting success that you've always dreamed of and your wife never believed you could achieve.