Explosive Offenses Make Rockets & Celtics 'Over' 221 The NBA Pick

Jason Lake

Thursday, March 10, 2016 11:10 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 10, 2016 11:10 PM UTC

The Boston Celtics are hot as a pistol. The Houston Rockets? Rather lukewarm, but the arrival of China's MVP has gone done changed the game for Friday's NBA picks.

Jason's 2015-16 record as of March 10: 28-32-1 ATS, 6-1-1 Total

Honestly, the Houston Rockets (32-32 SU, 28-36 ATS) aren't all that bad. Dysfunctional? Somewhat. Disappointing? Definitely. But they're still a .500 ball club with star talent and a smart front office, and .500 might be good enough to make it into the Western Conference playoffs this year. Everyone needs to relax. Maybe some valerian root will help.

Let's not forget that the Rockets have played 13 of their last 18 games on the road. Their odyssey continues Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET) when they visit the Boston Celtics, who have taken advantage of a home-heavy schedule to improve to 39-26 SU and 36-28-1 ATS. That's the most profitable record in the East. Boston has opened as a 6-point chalk on our NBA odds board with a ginormous total of 221 points. Who wants buckets?


Made in China
That total looks ripe for exploiting, but let's see what our favorite hoop nerds have to say about the point spread.

FiveThirtyEight (CARM-Elo): Boston –6
Basketball-Reference (SRS): Boston –8.30

Intriguing. The folks at B-R believe Houston (–1.00 SRS) is a bit below average when it comes to performance level, while Boston (+3.80 SRS) has vaulted into second place in the East, ahead of the Toronto Raptors (+3.71 SRS). Why the big difference over at FiveThirtyEight? Unless they've switched things up since we last checked, they don't account for player injuries, so the absence of Kelly Olynyk (16.8 PER, +1.7 BPM) shouldn't factor into their numbers. Nor are the Celtics subject to fatigue or travel at the moment.

As for the Rockets, they may be on the road, but Thursday will be just their fifth game in the month of March. They're about as healthy as they've been all year, and they've added a couple of international free agents in forward Michael Beasley and guard Andrew Goudelock, both of whom played in China this season. Beasley was the “Foreign MVP” of the Chinese Basketball Association; ESPN's Kevin Pelton crunched the numbers from China and found Beasley's performance to be above average at the NBA level. Uh-oh.


Room 222
Perhaps it would be prudent to consider that total instead. We got paid earlier this month when the Celtics and the Portland Trail Blazers went UNDER 220.5 in a 116-93 victory for Boston. That was the biggest total the C's had faced all year – up until now. Not so for the Rockets; they've been killing the OVER all year, including 13-5 during this epic journey. Dang it, this NBA pick is a tough nut to crack.

We took a straw poll here at the home office, and we're recommending the OVER for a very small bet. The arrival of Beasley and the call-up of guard K.J. McDaniels tell us that Houston is going all-in on offense, and the OVER is 7-3 in Boston's last 10 games with the total at 210 points or higher. We'll buy that for a dollar.

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NBA Pick: OVER 221
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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