Bet Energized Suns Our NBA Pick To Slow Down Rockets

Jay Pryce

Thursday, February 4, 2016 1:25 PM GMT

Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016 1:25 PM GMT

The Suns look to pick up their game under interim coach Earl Watson when the Rockets fly into town on Thursday. Let's review the NBA Odds first to make our sharp NBA pick.

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NBA Pick: Suns +7.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

The slumping Suns host the Rockets Thursday night (9 p.m. ET), the first of three meetings between the two this season. Phoenix joined the Rockets on Monday as the only Western Conference team to fire their coach this year. Will the Suns pick up their game against the equally disappointing Rockets?

 

Houston Rockets (26-25 SU, 20-29-2 ATS)
The Rockets find themselves road chalk by 7 points or more for just the second time all season, beating the Lakers 112-95 as 9.5-point favorites in mid January. Houston is 15-3 SU, 9-8-1 ATS in this situation when James Harden starts in his career. 

Speaking of Harden, he's become quite the facilitator of late. The six-year pro accrued 14 assists to go along with 26 points in the team's 115-102 win over the Heat on Tuesday. Harden committed only three turnovers as well, which has been his average over the last 10 games. The Rockets are moving the ball and finding effective scoring chances with Harden sharing the rock. The Suns may look to P.J. Tucker to shut down “The Beard” tonight. Lifetime, Harden is just 16-of-50 from the floor when the Phoenix forward is defending. 

Since a stunning 88-84 home win over the Spurs on Christmas Day, the Rockets' defense comes back to earth against teams who move the ball well. Facing opponents amassing 22 assists or more per game (the league average), it is allowing a 48.7 field goal percentage and 117.1 points a night. Houston has slumped to 1-8 SU, 1-7-1 ATS record in this scenario, allowing its opponents to score above their team total in all but two. Against foes coming in with less-than-average assists per game, J. B. Bickerstaff's squad is 9-2 SU, 7-4 ATS, yielding just 102.5 points per game. Phoenix enters the matchup averaging 20.6 assists (22nd), and .550 per field goal made (24th)

One short-term trend worth noting here is that also since Christmas, the Rockets have gone over the total in 15 of 20 games, scoring more than the betting market projects in 16 of them. 

 

Phoenix Suns (14-36 SU, 19-31 ATS)
The Suns are the worst team in the NBA since Thanksgiving. After starting the season with a record of 7-8 (8-7 ATS), they have managed just  seven wins in their last 34 games, a stretch in which they are 11-23 ATS. Phoenix's free fall can partly be attributed to the season-ending loss of  PG Eric Bledsoe to a torn MCL in late December. Honestly, though, the slide started well before his injury. On Monday, the Suns' front office fired Jeff Hornacek, head coach for three seasons, promoting assistant Earl Watson on an interim basis. 

With Bradon Knight potentially out of the matchup with a strained groin, the Suns lose their second-best offensive player behind Bledsoe. Phoenix's backcourt will be handled by a pair of young, former Kentucky Wildcats: rookie Devin Booker and second-year pro Archie Goodwin. Do they have enough offensive punch to keep up with the Rockets? Forwards T.J Warren and Mirza Teletovic are efficient offensively, but both come off the bench and play roughly 20 minutes per game. Power forward Markieff Morris dropped 30 in Phoenix's 104-97 loss to Raptors last time out, and may be the go-to again tonight. The Rockets will be thin down low with Terrence Jones forced to sit out following a car accident on his way to catch the charter to Phoenix.

 

Final Analysis
NBA Odds makers and the public can't seem to catch up to the Suns. In last 20 games, Phoenix tips off with an average line of 6.9, but are losing to the spread by 6.1 points a game. Nonetheless, over half of the Suns' covers this season have come at home against teams scoring at or above 100 points on the year. Holding opponents to 102.9 points per game, they are 10-6 ATS and have taken six of their last seven in this scenario. The Rockets enter scoring 105.3 per contest, fourth best in the NBA. Expect Phoenix to come out with improved energy and effort in the second game under Watson. Phoenix +8 our NBA pick tonight.

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