The OVER is cashing many times over in Rockets games recently, as Houston is heating up from the floor. The Trail Blazers, however, present some tough matchups across the hardwood capable of keeping the score down. Pick on the total with analysis here.
NBA Pick: Under 218
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker
Portland covered a 7-point spread versus the Rockets in a 108-103 overtime loss at the Toyota Center in mid November. The first game following the unexpected firing of coach Kevin McHale, Houston scored just 35 points in the first half, but erased a 15-point deficit in the fourth with a 38-point rally to send it to extra time. James Harden had a monster game with 45 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and five steals.
Portland Trail Blazers (24-27 SU, 26-24-1 ATS)
The Trail Blazers are one of the hottest teams over the last few weeks, going 9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS in their last 12 games. They played nine at home during the stretch.
Portland's offense is carried by their backcourt. PG Damian Lillard (24.0 ppg), SG C.J. McCollum (20.9 ppg) and SG Allen Crabbe (11.3 ppg) are the team’s three top scorers. When the trio scores below their combined average on a night, the Blazers are 6-13 ATS, slumping to 95.6 points per game. They are 16-8 ATS with 107.9 points per game scoring 55 points or more in a contest, seeing the team total go over in 21 of 24. The Portland backcourt could be in for a big night. Houston 's allowing 24.6 points per game to guards over the last 10 games, seventh most in the league during this span.
As we've mentioned in previous Trail Blazer previews, Portland thrives when they are allowed to work the court and play at tempo. The Rockets enter the contest allowing 24.6 assists per game at .622 per field goal made, 30th and 28th worst in the league, respectively. The Blazers are 11-3 ATS versus opponents allowing 23 or more assists per night, though, lighting it up for 107.4 points per game with an average 46.0 field-goal percentage.
Houston Rockets (27-25 SU, 20-30-2 ATS)
I hope some bettors are profiting off Houston's improved shooting of late. Since Christmas Day, the Rockets have gone over the total in 15 of 21 games, scoring more than the betting market projects in 16 of them. Their average field goal percentage is 46.0 percent versus 43.6 in games prior.
Will the OVER be the play tonight? I have my doubts. The analytics-driven Rockets pick up a fair amount of points in the paint, looking for the most efficient shots on the floor. Portland plays the rim-protecting game well, yielding the fourth-fewest points in the zone with 39.1 per contest. When Houston squares off against a defense yielding 40 points or fewer in the area, the UNDER is 13-3 with the team slumping to 96.5 points per game. The Rockets have failed to reach their team total in 11 of the contests.
Both Portland and Houston live and die behind the arc. The Rockets toss up and drop the first and second most threes in the NBA at 31.2 attempts and 11.1 makes per game. The Trail Blazers, meanwhile, put up the fourth-most attempted and made at 28.3 and 10.1 per contest. Both defenses are less-than-stellar at defending downtown, too. The Rockets allow a 36.5 percent success rate from the area, while the Trail Blazers yield 36.9. The difference here is that Portland thrive against up-tempo teams allowing for a high number of threes. When it faces an opposing defense allowing more than nine a night on the year, the Trail Blazers are 12-5 ATS.
The Trail Blazers plus 5 points is intriguing in this matchup, but the Rockets home form of late (12-5 SU, 11-6 ATS since December 1) is a concern. The value here may lie in the steep over-under on the NBA odds board. Expect Portland to keep the high-flying Rockets grounded, and just at or below their 105.5 home scoring average. UNDER 218 is the play for your NBA picks.