Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30 pm ET at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. This game can be seen on ESPN.
The betting odds came out late for this game, but BetOnline lists the Rockets as a moderate 4.5 point betting favorite while the total for the game is 202.
Paul George Update
While Patrick Beverley broke his nose against the Orlando Magic and will be fitted with a mask, I’m going to attribute the late odds to the playing status of the great Paul George.
Paul George had a disastrous game against the Charlotte Bobcats, shooting 0 of 9 from the field for 2 points and it’s said that his back is stiff and the injury affected his play. George’s status is basically up in the air, but BetOnline provided the betting line early.
Keep an eye on the injury report at as game time draws nearer. Regardless, the Pacers need George to be 100% against a team that has an offense like Houston. The Rockets are 3rd in the NBA in scoring at 106.3 points and 5th in rebounding at 45.4 rebounds per game.
If George is unable to play, the top ranked Indiana defense, which allows just 91.6 points per game, will need to step it up. Also players such as Lance Stephenson and newly acquired Evan Turner will need to pick up the slack. Turner is coming off of a 22 point 5 assist game in the loss to Charlotte and this is the exact reason why Indiana acquired a player like this.
The Door Is Open
Well, when you have Oklahoma City and San Antonio ahead of you by 3 games for the number 1 spot in the Western Conference, we’ll say that the door is ajar as the Rockets are playing at home, on a 3 game winning streak, and are facing a normally strong Pacers team that might be reeling a bit. The Rockets offense starts and stops with the combination of James Harden and Dwight Howard.
The Beard and D-12
I don’t know how Oklahoma City ever late James Harden go. The 6th man position wasn’t good enough and maybe the Thunder management didn’t realize just how good Harden is. He’s not the best shooter in the game, but one of the best penetrators to the basket. In his last 10 games, Harden is averaging 27.8 points, 7.4 assists, and 4.6 rebounds per game. The Pacers defense is the best in the NBA, but I’m not so sure that they’re capable of preventing James Harden from scoring at least 25 points in this game, especially if Paul George isn’t 100%.
Then, you have Dwight Howard. Howard made a huge mistake in becoming a Laker and mouthing off when he was the leader of the Magic. Now, he’s on a good team and has become a good citizen. When a player is happy, they become motivated and it show’s in Howard’s play.
Dwight Howard is also capable of putting up 25 points per game, but he doesn’t need to on the Rockets. Howard is a rebounding machine at 12.5 rebounds per game and has become quite an efficient shooter at 59.1% from the field.
A matchup of Dwight Howard vs. Roy Hibbert could be the key to this game. Although Hibbert has had a very disappointing season, his mere presence due to his size could cause some problems for the Houston offense.
I’m going to assume that Paul George isn’t 100% whether he plays or not. Houston has been on a tear as of late while the Pacers recently loss to a bottom feeder in the Charlotte Bobcats. The line should be from anywhere from 3 to 4.5 and I recommend that you take Houston as your pick.Pick- Houston -3 to -4.5 (whatever you can get the betting line at)