The Houston Rockets continue to chase the Memphis Grizzlies for the second seed in the Western Conference. Tracking down the Grizzlies will become a lot more realistic if the Rockets can snag key road wins such as this next one against the Washington Wizards in the Verizon Center. They’re favored on the NBA betting lines.
The Houston Rockets Can Win Because…
Their opponent is reeling. Washington has lost four straight games. The Wizards started the season as one of the better defensive teams in the NBA, but they’ve slipped in that regard and are paying the price on the scoreboard. The Wizards gave up 103 points to the not-very-potent Indiana Pacers the other night in Washington, D.C. The Wizards allowed Indiana guard George Hill to go off for 29 points on 50 percent field goal shooting (12 of 24). Hill is not an elite scorer in the league, so that kind of play by a decent yet not star player is an obvious sign of the Wizards’ current flaws on defense.
Another really bad sign for Washington is the fact that Bradley Beal suffered a sprained ankle in that loss to Indiana. He played only 11 minutes in the game due to that injury. He came back on Friday but was put through the rigors of a double-overtime game. Considering how banged up he’s been, it’s surprising that coach Randy Wittman made him play 43 minutes. We’ll see if he suits up Saturday night since it’s a back-to-back. If not, that hurts the Wizards chances quite a bite.
The Washington Wizards Can Win Because…
They still have John Wall and Marcin Gortat, two players who are performing as though they still believe this season can be saved. On Wednesday against Indiana, Wall scored 34 points. He was 11 of 21 from the field, over 50 percent, and he was 10 of 11 at the free throw line. He was dazzling, handing out six assists and committing only two turnovers in his 41 minutes on the court. Gortat wasn’t nearly as overwhelming, but he was still very solid, scoring 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting with seven rebounds and only two turnovers in 30 minutes. If Wall and Gortat can provide that kind of production or anything close to it, and a few of the Wizards’ role players can improve upon what they did against Indiana to a fair degree, this game should be pretty even late in the fourth quarter, and the Wizards can make their move.
Keep in mind when placing your NBA pick that what also works in Washington’s favor is that Houston is still easing Dwight Howard into the lineup following his return from injury. Howard got just 16 minutes Wednesday night against New Orleans. He scored only four points. With teammate Jason Terry having scored just two points in 27 minutes against New Orleans, and with Josh Smith going through another typically inefficient 4 of 10 shooting game against the Pelicans, the Rockets have a lot of players who are nowhere close to their best. This opens the door for the Wizards.
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The Wizards are a bit of a mess right now as they’ve lost four of five and their only win was a double-overtime victory at home to Charlotte last night. The Rockets are rolling right now, having won six of seven. They can smell the second seed in the conference. Look for them to keep rising and to win and cover the spread on Sunday.
NBA Pick: Houston -2 at BetOnline