The Magic have been battling hard, but we don't see them being able to keep up with James Harden and the Rockets tonight. Our NBA odds preview can be found inside.
The Rockets would have been favored regardless, but they're laying even more points now that the Magic are beat up injury-wise. Current NBA odds show Houston giving away 8.5 points at most of the top online sportsbooks.
For those wanting to make a play on the total, the O/U is listed at 196 as of now. There's still plenty of time for those numbers to change throughout the day, so make sure you keep tracking the odds in order to get maximize your value with all of your sports handicapping picks.
Ending a six-game losing streak must have felt good for the Magic, especially since the win came over Chicago on the road. Few people saw that one coming. The victory was obviously very much needed, considering Orlando will face a gauntlet here over their next few games, starting with Houston and then having to play Memphis and Oklahoma City in consecutive games.
Even with both Tobias Harris and Evan Fournier out due to injury, the Magic went into the Windy City and recorded a rather shocking 121-114 road W over the struggling Bulls. Nikola Vucevic and Victor Olapido were terrific, as they each dropped 33 points, with Vucevic adding 11 rebounds and four blocks in what was easily his best performance of the season. As a team, Orlando shot an insane 59.3 percent from the field.
You would think returning home after such a stellar win would be good news for the Magic, but they've actually been very poor on their own court. Heading into tonight, they've gone 4-12 at home, which certainly isn't going to make potential backers feel all that confident. That said, stranger things have happened in the association over the years.
The Rockets seem to have solidified their rotation and their results have improved as a result. Immediately following the acquisition of Josh Smith, they went on a losing streak (not a coincidence), but they've since moved Donatas Motiejunas back into the starting five and have been playing better. Coming in, Houston has won five straight games, with the latest a 14-point road triumph over the Nets on Monday evening.
James Harden had his way with Brooklyn, scoring 30 points to go with six assists and a few rebounds as well. Motiejunas had a 18/11 double-double and Patrick Beverley, Trevor Ariza and Josh Smith all hit double figures in scoring too. As a team, the Rockets shot 47.7 percent while hitting a very healthy 40.0 percent (16-of-40) from beyond the arc. Yes, you read that right: they took 40 3-point attempts.
Houston's team defense is what has carried them to success this season, and a healthy Dwight Howard has certainly helped in that regard. Harden also seems to be trying a little harder on that end of the floor, but we all know he's all about scoring the basketball and making things happen offensively. That's just fine with Houston fans.
We see this as a case of too much firepower winning out over everything else.
Harris, who has been Orlando's most consistent player this season, has already been ruled out, and Fournier is listed as a game-time decision. Those absences are going to be tough to overcome for the Magic, who come up against a Houston team that's finding its stride at just the right time.
With Harden leading the way and enforcing his will throughout, we look for the Rockets to have little trouble pulling away at some point. We think they're worth backing as your NBA picks and that they'll win by at least nine points in this spot. Best of luck!
NBA Pick: Houston Rockets -9 at BookMaker