Rockets Aim To Trip Up Cavs Home Dominance

James harden

Jay Pryce

Saturday, February 3, 2018 2:41 PM UTC

Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 2:41 PM UTC

A potential NBA Finals preview is on tap Saturday as the Rockets take on the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland owns the best home winning percentage in the league since early November. 

Houston Rockets vs Cleveland Cavaliers

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Free NBA Pick: Rockets -3.5Best Line Offered: at BetOnline Cavaliers (30-20 SU, 14-35-1 ATS)

Cavs Winning on their Terms, Thomas Integration Slow, Love Injury

In the betting world, the Cavs stink. Their 14-35-1 ATS record is the worst of any NBA team through its first 50 games in our database stretching back to 1995. The 2003 Orlando Magic, with Tracy McGrady (32.1 ppg) carrying the load, is next on the list at 16-31-3 overall. Cleveland is failing to cover a -5.1 average line by 4.9 points per game overall.

Nonetheless, LeBron James and company are winning outright, particularly at Quicken Loans Arena. Since November 7, they own the best home winning percentage in the NBA at 16-2 SU (4-13-1 ATS). The offense is scoring 113.0 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting during the run, draining 12.3 treys per outing. The King is boasting a near triple-double: 27.4 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 9.4 assists in 37.5 minutes per game.

Defensively, Cleveland is a mess, especially attempting to integrate Isaiah Thomas. The star point guard, who missed the first 38 games with a hip injury following a trade in August from the Celtics, has suited up for 12 since the New Year. The Cavs yield 117.2 points per game on 49.1 percent shooting. Communication is lacking. Opponents are catching them in poor positions on the court and gifting few turnovers. Cleveland’s rebound margin is -7.1 in this scenario, while earning a paltry 12.6 turnovers. The figures come out to -1.0 and 13.4 takeaways with Thomas injured.

Kevin Love is out eight weeks after fracturing his left hand Tuesday in a 125-114 loss at Detroit. Don’t expect a dip in performance, as long as James is on the court. Since the start of last season, Cleveland averages 112.1 points and allows 108.6 per game with Love and the King starting. In 19 games with Love out and James in, the numbers remain fairly constant at 110.3 scored and 104.2 surrendered.

Rockets (37-13 SU, 24-45 ATS)

Paul, Harden 1-2 Punch

Fact: the Rockets are 22-3 SU (13-12 ATS) with Chris Paul and James Harden starting; 15-10 SU (11-14 ATS) with one out of the lineup. Their average winning margin is boosted by 6.3 points per game when healthy, a lethal offense the catalyst. Scoring jumps to 117.1 points per game, as opposed to 110.6 when one fails to suit up. Both are expected to play in Cleveland.

What does it take to beat the dynamic duo? A combination of lights-out shooting and the rare Rockets sputter offensively. The Wizards and Pelicans were better than 53.0 percent from the floor in their upsets, while Houston tallied less than 46.2 percent. The Lakers defeat occurred with the Rockets going 37-of-90 from the field, their worst offensive performance behind the Paul and Harden all season.

Pick

Cleveland shot 35 percent from the floor in a grind-it-out win over the Heat Wednesday, its third lowest rate all year. The team came up 16 points shy of its projected team total. James and crew have had trouble recovering from such poor betting market performances in scoring all season, slow to get the offense on back on track. They are 4-10 SU and 1-12-1 ATS when failing to cover their prior team total by more than 8 points. This includes both home losses (Warriors, Thunder) since November 7. The Cavs average 106.8 points per game on 45.7 from the field next time out. This will not be enough to top the high-flying Rockets. Pick Houston for the win and against the spread.

Check out what fellow SBR contributor Teddy Covers thinks of the Rockets-Cavs clash here, and subscribe to our Youtube page for daily handicapping information, research, professional advice, picks, and sometimes light-hearted buffoonery.

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