NBA Picks: Low Scoring Will Keep Pistons-Rockets Clash 'Under'

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 2:57 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016 2:57 PM UTC

The Rockets and Pistons clash in Houston on Wednesday night. James Harden and crew are improving at home, while Detroit struggles with their scoring. Find out our NBA pick inside.

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Free NBA Pick: Under 206½
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle


Detroit Pistons (22-19 SU, 22-19 ATS)
The Pistons have won only five of their last 12 SU and ATS, and are just 1-6 ATS in last seven on the road against Western Conference opponents. Their Inability to sustain offense has hampered the team, averaging 93 points and eclipsing 96 in only one, its 103-101 defeat to the Grizzlies last Thursday.

Reggie Jackson is Detroit's best scoring threat, posting 19.4 points per game. The team is 13-1 SU and ATS when the the point guard scores more than his average on any given night versus 7-14 SU and ATS at 19 points or below. The Rockets' 19.1 points per game allowed to the position is tied for for second fewest in the NBA behind the Celtics (18.4). Jackson has had success against the Rockets current roster, though, shooting 52 percent from the field in past matchups.

Coach Stan Van Gundy will need C Andre Drummond to have a big night offensively if Jackson is shut down, though. Posting 17.6 points per game on the season, against Houston's lineup he's shooting an eye-opening 62 percent from floor. He's averaging just 15.6 through his last five contests, however.


Houston Rockets (22-21 SU, 16-26-1 ATS)
Since December 1, the Rockets are 9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS at home after going 4-7 SU, 1-10 ATS in the first month and a half of the season. J.B. Bickerstaff, who took over coaching duties after the front office fired Kevin McHale 11 games into the year, has improved the defense mostly. In the first 11 home games, Houston yielded 108 points and a 46.6 opponent field goal percentage per game as opposed to 101 and 43.3 since. 

James Harden, second to Steph Curry (30.0) in the race for the NBA scoring title with 27.5 points per game, keys Houston's win-loss success. The team is 12-4 SU (8-7-1 ATS) when the three-time All Star sinks 30 points or more in a game versus 10-17 SU (8-19 ATS) scoring less. “The Beard” has struggled mightily against the Pistons' SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, shooting 4 for 23 when the second-year pro is the nearest defender. Behind  the Hawks (37.3) and Bulls (37.0), the Pistons yield the lowest field goal percentage to shooting guards in the NBA. 

The mercurial Dwight Howard, coming off his best scoring night in a Rockets uniform with 36 points in the team's 140-132 overtime defeat to the Clippers on Monday, is capable of carrying the load offensively. Against the Pistons' bevy of centers (Drummond, Aron Baynes and Joel Anthony), Howard is 23 for 35 from the field.

For what it's worth, the Rockets are only 2-7 against Eastern Conference foes at the Toyota Center this season, playing on average 8.6 points below the oddsmakers number in each contest. 


Final Analysis
It's difficult to trust either team on the side in this one. Detroit's offense is hit-or-miss when it takes to the road, averaging just 95 points in the last month away from home. The Rockets are gaining momentum in Houston, but you're never too sure which team is going to show up: the one that defeated the Spurs on Christmas Day, or the one that fell to the Nets in early November as an 11.5-point favorite. The value for our NBA picks here may be in the over-under with Houston's defense improving and Detroit's scoring woes as the visitor. The NBA odds boards show the under in 206.5, and this will definitely be our play for the night.

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