NBA Picks: Suns vs. Rockets

Jason Lake

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 12:09 PM GMT

Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 12:09 PM GMT

The Phoenix Suns just got extinguished in Memphis. How will the NBA betting lines react as the Suns pile into the van and head out to the Toyota Center to face the Houston Rockets?

Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to December 2 inclusive:

16-15 ATS

4-2 Totals

We’re used to seeing the Western Conference dominate the NBA, but this is ridiculous. As we went to press, only three of the 15 teams in the West had losing records. Compare that to the Eastern Conference, where only two teams had winning records. Let’s put it another way: The Phoenix Suns (9-9 SU, 12-5-1 ATS) are in 12th place in the West; they’d be a top-four seed in the East if the playoffs started today.

And this is after the Suns lost 110-91 to the Memphis Grizzlies (–2.5) on Tuesday. No time for navel-gazing, though. Phoenix has to get right back on the horse Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets (13-6 SU, 11-7-1 ATS) in a matchup of two highly profitable teams against the NBA spreads. Who will prevail? The basketball odds were pending at press time, but given the extra day of rest, one would think Houston, wouldn’t one?

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The ConstruKction of Dwight

They had some ups and some downs to start the 2013-14 regular season, but the Rockets are absolutely scorching right now at 8-2 SU and ATS in their last 10 games. Their offense was No. 2 on the offensive efficiency charts (108.5 points per 100 possessions) heading into Tuesday’s action, paired with the No. 12-ranked defense (101.2 points allowed/100) and driving the OVER to an 11-8 record.

I’d say that Dwight Howard signing is working out well so far. He’s still not the player he was with the Orlando Magic, but he is performing a bit better than he did with the Los Angeles Lakers:

2012-13: 17.1 points, 9.2 rebounds per 36 minutes; 19.4 PER, 0.134 Win Shares/48

2013-14: 18.1 points, 9.8 rebounds per 36 minutes; 20.1 PER, 0.156 Win Shares/48

The Rockets have also gotten solid results from PG Jeremy Lin (18.8 PER), although he’ll be out of the lineup for another week or so with a sprained right knee. That’s not good for Houston, but it’s not a disaster considering how well PG Aaron Brooks (16.5 PER) is playing this year. Brooks slots in nicely as the offensive counterpart to starting PG Patrick Beverley (12.0 PER), who cut his teeth in Europe as an energetic defensive stopper.

Raging Harden

All well and good, but the straw that stirs the drink in Houston is SG James Harden (22.7 PER). He’s missed a handful of games this year with a nagging foot injury, and his speed up and down the court has suffered somewhat; however, Harden has looked more like himself of late. His 37 points led all scorers in Monday’s matchup with the Utah Jazz, although the Jazz managed the 109-103 upset as 7.5-point home dogs.

Getting Harden back to speed is critical, but there’s another injury that just might be enough to keep Houston in the red for a while. SF Chandler Parsons (18.0 PER) missed the Utah game with a sore back and is listed as day-to-day. His status for Wednesday’s matchup with the Suns (8:00 p.m. ET) is uncertain, but may have been resolved by the time you read this.

Parsons (17.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists/36) has played well enough this year as an energetic glue guy that I would be confident recommending the Rockets if he suits up. If not? There’s always the OVER, which has paid off in eight of the last 10 games for Phoenix and eight of 12 for Houston, including the last three games. In fact, because of the uncertainty with the NBA lines, that’s my official pick for Wednesday. Give Parsons some Icy Hot and get him on the court already.

NBA Pick: Take the OVER

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