Houston Rockets (50-28) at Los Angeles Clippers (47-31)
Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Free NBA Pick: Rockets ATS
Recommended Sportsbook: 5Dimes
Everything I’ve been taught is a lie. When the computer projections at FiveThirtyEight told us the Boston Celtics had value at –2 over the San Antonio Spurs back on March 24, we jumped all over that. Then the Celtics lost 115-96. Undaunted, we went with the Minnesota Timberwolves last Saturday as 5.5-point underdogs versus the Philadelphia 76ers, again because of the projections. The Sixers won 118-109.
There was another common thread linking those two games: Boston and Minnesota were playing on zero days of rest. So here we are again. The Houston Rockets visit the Los Angeles Clippers this Wednesday, one day after playing the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento. FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO formula takes rest days and travel into consideration, so when they project Houston as a 2.5-point favorite, but the actual NBA odds have the Clippers at –1.5, what are we supposed to do?
What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?
Before we step in it for a third time, let’s consider whether the Rockets are going to give anyone the day off Wednesday for “load management.’ Maybe? Kenneth Faried (minus-0.4 BPM) looks like a strong candidate after making his return from the injured list on Tuesday, but that’s all we know at the moment. Nobody hit the 30-minute mark in Monday’s 130-105 destruction of the Kings (+5.5 at home), either.
The total is quickly becoming our preferred NBA pick here at the ranch, but this isn’t the right matchup for it. The Clippers have the ‘over’ at 24-13-1 this year when they play at Staples Center, which is lovely, but the Rockets have the ‘under’ at 22-16 on the road, and they’ll be even more likely to go ‘under’ after playing on Tuesday. Never mind that noise – let’s stick with the point spread if we’re going to bet at all.
Third Time Lucky
Fading the Clippers is already a dubious choice in and of itself. They’re already the most profitable team in the Western Conference, and they’re nearly as good at home (22-16 ATS) as they are on the road (23-16-1 ATS). They’re also 4-1 SU and 4-0-1 ATS over their past five games. But all four of those wins were against lousy teams, which the Rockets are not.
Also, while the Clippers swept their other two games with Houston this year SU and ATS, James Harden (plus-11.7 BPM) missed one game, and Chris Paul (plus-2.5 BPM) the other. We’ll give the computers another shot and bet the Rockets, but only for a small sum this time. Save the serious bets for when a juicier opportunity comes knocking.