Dwight Howard will likely miss this game and probably one or two more after that as he deals with an ankle injury. His presence would have forced the Nets into being a jump shooting team like in their first meeting back in November, but now with Howard all but ruled out for this game, the Rockets are left with a huge defensive lapse in the middle.
The NBA Odds have the Rockets as +3 underdogs here, with a total of 209. While the spread does look ok, it doesn’t scream value on one side or the other. However the total is the exact opposite, and with the season running short, I think this total is something we can exploit.
Without Howard and Patrick Beverley, the Rockets are down their best two defenders, and the Nets will surely be able to take advantage of this. They will get into the lane as they please, and Deron Williams will be able to do whatever he wants against Jeremy Lin, who had a horrible game as a starter against the Clippers.
The Nets are no defensive juggernaut either, and even though they are on the road, the Rockets should still be able to score. Without Howard their offense will flow almost exclusively through James Harden, but he is a tough matchup for the Nets either way. Brooklyn does not defend the shooting guard position well this season.
The Sharp Pick
Both of these teams cash the over when playing the other conference, and combined they are 29-26-1 cashing the over in inter-conference games. Brooklyn has been an amazing value on over bets recently, cashing their last five games overall with the over, and five of their last six home games have gone over as well.
The Nets are also one of the best teams at cashing the over at home this year, coming in so far at 21-14-1. On the other side, Houston has cashed the over in seven of their last eight games, and without Howard and Beverley, I think their averages could spike to end the season. They already play at a frantic pace on offense, which leads to more points for the other team. Brooklyn doesn’t play extremely quick, however they are one of the more efficient offenses in the entire NBA.
The Nets have shown recently that they can win by out-scoring opponents. Brooklyn is averaging exactly 106 points per game in their last ten games, and with Houston coming in, the Nets could have a floor even higher than that.
The Rockets have been scoring and giving up points recently. Houston is averaging over 110 points per game in their last ten games, and during that same stretch they are giving up over 105 points per game. This season the Rockets are giving up that much on the road to begin with, and if Brooklyn gets north of 105 tonight, this total is a great over play for our basketball pick.
NBA Pick: OVER 209