NBA Picks: Rockets Superior Offense to Prevail Against Pelicans

Swinging Johnson

Saturday, December 26, 2015 7:24 PM GMT

The Rockets have won four of their last five including a stunner over the Spurs, while the Pelicans dropped their Christmas Day contest against the Heat. Let's check the NBA odds first.

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NBA Pick: Houston PK
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

 

Houston Rockets (16-15 SU, 13-18 ATS)
James Harden bucketed 20 points and led the Rockets to their biggest win of the season with an 88-84 stunner over one of the top teams in the league, the San Antonio Spurs. The NBA odds makers installed the Rockets as seven-point home underdogs but Houston's suffocating defense held the Spurs to their lowest point total of the season and put a halt to their seven-game winning streak. Dwight Howard scored 11 points and grabbed 12 boards for his third double-double in his last five games. Defense has been the key to success for the Rockets who have won 18 consecutive contests when they hold an opponent to less than 90 points. Houston was also aided mightily by their bench last night having outscored the Spurs' pine crew 41-26.

Despite the fact that the Rockets only scored 88 points last night they are still ranked 5th in scoring averaging 103.6 points per game while their defense, ironically so impressive last night, is mired in 25th place in the league surrendering 104.9 points per contest. Nevertheless, last night's win was pivotal as they climbed above .500 on the seaosn and are now tied with the Memphis Grizzlies for the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

 

New Orleans Pelicans (9-20 SU, 11-18 ATS)
The Pelicans took the Heat to overtime but ultimately bowed 94-88 which proved to be a gut-wrenching failed cover for all those who included New Orleans in their NBA picks. The oddsmakers were giving the Pelicans a 5½-point head start which was not quite enough to get the money saving push needed if you backed Nawlins' last night. Power forward Anthony Davis was doing all he could do to upset the Heat on their home court with 29 points and 15 boards while teammates Ryan Anderson chipped in with 18 and Eric Gordon bucketed 16 in the losing effort.

The Pelicans have been faring well offensively this season averaging 102.2 points per game (8th) but their defense has been lackluster to say the least with opponents scoring in bunches to the tune of 107.1 PPG which ranks them near the cellar tied at 28th. Anthony Davis, the first overall pick in the NBA's 2012 draft, is making the New Orleans' front office look smart as the 6'10" power forward/center out of Kentucky is already a two-time NBA All-Star and looking to make a case for his third appearance. The Pelicans have won and covered three of their last five.

 

Betting Analysis
The Pelicans are 3-1 ATS against the Rockets in the last four games played down on the Bayou. However, Houston did prevail in their last visit which occurred in March of last season with 95-93 victory as one point underdogs. In addition, the Rockets are 6-2 ATS in their last eight versus Western Conference opponents. The Pelicans are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 when playing in the second leg of back-to-back games and 1-4 ATS in their last five Saturday contests.

Houston is a different team since the firing of head coach Kevin McHale on November 18th and the team is clearly morphing from a "shoot first - defense later" team to a much more balanced attack resulting in the Rockets winning and covering six of their last nine games. While both teams will be playing the second game in consecutive nights I will side with the more talented squad that is getting back into a groove that they were without early in the season.