This NBA handicapper is predicting a minor upset today in Washington. Find out why you should add the Washington Wizards over the Houston Rockets to your NBA picks.
The Line and Last Time
I think we have caught the NBA odds makers in a tough spot here. They have to make the Rockets the favorite due to a few factors. They are hot winning six of their last seven games, Howard is back, and they have the possible MVP on their team. It makes sense making them the favorite, and the NBA odds makers have done just that making the Rockets a -2.5 in this match up. It is also understandable to not put a lot of stock in the one other match up these two teams had back in December with the Wizards winning in Houston. Although the score ended up pretty close, Washington controlled that game for the most part and I expect them to do the same here. Everyone played in that game, including Howard, so the Wizards can go into this contest confident they can beat the Rockets.
Washington vs. Houston Motivation
Sometimes NBA handicappers put a lot of stock in motivating factors. This can come into effect at times, but these guys are pros and the fact that Washington could lock up a playoff spot with a win is not such a big deal to me. Consider the fact that Brooklyn would have to lose today for that to become a reality and the motivation factor doesn’t come into play as strongly as holding your own destiny in one game. Put all that on the side though and we do have a Wizards team that needs a win, period. The Rockets are a good team, but having already locked up a spot would be the angle for me to look at as far as their motivation. For my NBA pick here, I lean towards the Wizards, but not by much.
As Always, it Comes Down to Defense
The Wizards can play that. In the last three games the Wizards are leading the league in opponent field goal shooting from the field at 39.8%. Also, at home this year, they are third ranked in this category allowing 42.4% from the field. The problem has been their own shooting which has been awful, while they led the league in defensive field goal percentage in those three games they were also worst in the league in offensive field goal percentage in that same time frame. They did however face three really good defensive teams in the Warriors (and the Wizards were off a back to back and at Golden State… yikes), Pacers, and Hornets. Houston has been playing very good basketball and they have been lights out especially from distance. The Rockets are ranked fourth in the league the last three games in three point percentage at 43.3%, and from the field they are also ranked fourth in that same time frame at 50.2%. The issue in two of those last three games is they have found it pretty easy going against New Orleans and Minnesota which are not defensive stalwarts. The Rockets love to shoot beyond the arc and lead the league in attempts at just above 33 per game. They are decent at making them as well ranked in the middle of the league at 34.7%.
Washington should put a stop, or at least do enough on the defensive end to limit Houston’s three point barrage. On the year, at home, the Wizards are ranked third in the league in opponent three point shooting at 32.3%. With that in mind, along with their overall defensive dominance at home I look for the Wizards to play the possibly a bit less motivated Rockets real tough and come out with the win. With how recent play has gone for both teams it is easy to see why Houston would be favored, but the small line made by the Sports books is telling. It looks a bit off all things considering, but after some digging I like Washington in this spot and I recommend you take the Wizards on the plus money line.
NBA Pick: Washington +126 at BetOnline