By Charles Jay
If the Houston Rockets keep going the way they are, they are going to challenge for the #1 seed in the West, although that doesn’t necessarily seem conceivable. But at the moment, they are on a hot run, which puts them in as good a reason as many to stand up to the San Antonio Spurs, in a game that is slated to get underway at 8:05 PM ET at the Toyota Center in Houston. BetAnySports customers can get reduced juice before the game starts, and after the opening tip-off, they can avail themselves of real-time wagering through the software provided by Live Betting Ultra.
The Rockets are playing their best basketball of the season, and there can’t be any dispute about that. They have won ten games in a row, and they have done a lot of that with defense, despite the fact that they have one of the more potent offensive weapons in the NBA in James Harden. They have yielded 45.2% shooting on the part of their opponents, but have let only two of their last ten foes even get to 45%. This is not the kind of thing you would think is typical of a team coached by Mike D’Antoni, who is best known for his “Eight Seconds or Less” philosophy when he was heading up the Phoenix Suns. Houston is a little slower up the court these days, ranking just tenth in the “Pace” category (average possessions per 48 minutes), but when they get there, they launch three-pointers – in fact, in 28 games, they have shot 1090 times from downtown, which is 208 more times than the next team on the list, the Golden State Warriors.
In the basketball betting odds posted on this game by the people at BetAnySports, the Rockets are the favorites in what is basically a near pick’em situation:
Houston Rockets -1
San Antonio Spurs +1
Over 213.5 points -110
Under 213.5 points -110
Over this ten-game win streak, Harden has averaged 25.8 points, which is below his season average, but he remains the league leader in assists, which is by design, as D’Antoni wanted him to essentially dominate the ball. What’s interesting, however, is that his Usage rate (33.1%) isn’t as insanely high as other players (like Russell Westbrook) who do the same thing.
Houston has a not-so-secret weapon on the stop end in Patrick Beverley, an All-Defensive team selection who is usually assigned to be pesky against the other team’s best perimeter player. He’s used to throwing people like Westbrook off their game, and he recently held the ball hog to just 32% (8 of 25) in a win over Oklahoma City.
These teams both shoot with a very high percentage – the Spurs are 46.9%, while Houston is at 46.8%, and San Antonio is a more deliberate squad, with a much slower pace on average and the ability to make their opponents work harder for shots – they have the league’s third best Defensive Rating, right behind Memphis and Utah, both of whom slow the game down. So it will be a contrast in styles to some extent. Thus far they have played twice, and the road team has won both times.
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