NBA Pick: Underdog Value Play Thursday

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, November 7, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Dwight Howard plays his first game vs. his former team the Lakers Thursday night, but his Houston Rockets appear overvalued at this inflated double-digit point spread.

Dwight Howard plays his first game vs. the team that he was supposed to help take to an NBA title before jumping ship after one disappointing season Thursday when his former team the Los Angeles Lakers (2-3, 0-2 away) pay a visit to his current team the Houston Rockets (4-1, 2-0 home) at the Toyota Center in Houston, TX at 9:35 ET in a game carries nationally on TNT.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Los Angeles as a huge underdog for this contest with the current line at +13 with odds of -103.

After being almost certainly the most disappointing team in the NBA last season after adding Howard and Steve Nash, expectations could be at an all-time low for a Laker team this year that is not overrated for the first time in memory, with Howard jumping ship at the first opportunity, Kobe Bryant not yet back from his torn Achilles and Nash another year older.

Meanwhile, the opposite is true in Houston where expectations are at perhaps an all-time high with Howard being brought in to vastly improve the Rockets’ defense and to now form perhaps the best inside-outside duo in the NBA along with James Harden. While the expectations for both teams may very well be realistic, this still seems like a bloated spread on a rare occasion where the Lakers could actually be undervalued.

Los Angeles is off to a 3-2 start ATS, as the Lakers opened the season with an upset of their Staples Center co-inhabitants the Clippers as 9½-point underdogs and also covered the spread in a six-point loss to the defending Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs, so even while appearing to be more outmanned than usual, Los Angeles has still managed to get up and elevate its level vs. top-tier opponents, and you know some Lakers are not happy with Howard.

The third cover came in a home win over the Atlanta Hawks this past Sunday, and while the Lakers did follow up that win with a 123-104 blowout loss at Dallas, it is entirely possible they got caught looking ahead to this nationally televised affair. At the very least, they want to bounce back so as not to get embarrassed in front of a national audience, and it is not as if their roster lacks talent as they do have five players averaging double-figures paced by Pau Gasol (14.6 PPG).

The Rockets already faced one Los Angeles team this week when they visited the Clippers Monday, and it was not a pleasant experience as Howard was booed constantly and Houston was blown out badly 137-118 for its only loss of the season so far. The Rockets did rebound by beating the Portland Trail Blazers 116-101 on Tuesday for there first win this year by more than this posted point spread of 13 points.

Also, despite the presence of perhaps the best big man in the NBA in the middle, the Rockets still rank just 23rd in the league in points against during the early going surrendering 103.8 points per game, and they are just 17th in defensive efficiency grading out at 101.4 points allowed per 100 possessions.

While there is no doubt that the Rockets have better personnel right now, look for the Lakers to hang inside this enormous number in front of a national television audience on Thursday.

[gameodds]5/247098/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NBA Pick: Lakers +13 (-103)

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