Rockets Still Undervalued vs. Celtics in NBA Betting Circles

Friday, March 2, 2018 9:33 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 2, 2018 9:33 PM UTC

The Houston Rockets are all sorts of awesome, but the NBA betting market still hasn’t caught up. The Boston Celtics are getting too much love for Saturday’s matchup.

NBA Betting: Celtics vs. RocketsFree NBA Pick: Rockets -6.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Is there something wrong with the Houston Rockets (48-13 SU, 32-28-1 ATS)? They’re one of this year’s elite teams, they’ve won 14 straight games (9-5 ATS), and they've taken over first place in the league standings – so why aren’t more people betting on them? We took advantage last week when Houston beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 120-102 as 7.5-point home favorites. Now we get a chance to do it again: Boston (44-19 SU, 37-24-2 ATS) visits Houston on Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET; ABC), and the Celtics are only 6.5-point underdogs on the NBA odds board as we go to press.

I say “only” because the projections compel me to. The hoop nerds at FiveThirtyEight have the Rockets at 84 percent to win the game, or -10 using their CARMELO-based formula. As usual, ESPN’s Basketball Power Index is less enthusiastic about Houston’s chances at 72.9 percent, but that’s still good for between -6.5 and -7 according to the NBA numbers at Wizard of Odds. Seems like we can bet this one with at least some confidence.

Boston Market

It’s not as if bettors have completely ignored the Rockets. Although this remains a “regional” franchise (despite playing in the fourth-largest city in the United States), Houston still has this year’s leading MVP candidate in James Harden (plus-11.0 BPM), alongside his MVP-quality sidekick Chris Paul (plus-7.7 BPM). They’re a big draw on the betting market.

But not as big as the Celtics. Nobody has pulled in more handle this year, if the public money charts are correct. The C’s made a mountain of money right out of the gate, starting the season 16-2 SU and 15-2-1 ATS. They’ve broken even the rest of the way, defying the regression monsters, and they’re 4-3 SU and ATS since adding center Greg Monroe (plus-1.8 BPM) via free agency. Smoke and mirrors? Maybe, given some of the flack Monroe has gotten for his effort level in Boston. Then there's this:

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With @dtheis10 sidelined, @M10OSE took a chance and played some solid basketball, showing some great post-up game. Watch:

— Tomek Kordylewski (@Timi_093) March 1, 2018

We’re still content to put Houston in our NBA picks. When the Rockets and Celtics met just after the holidays, Boston prevailed 99-98 as a 2-point home dog. However, Paul missed that game while the C’s were at full strength (Gordon Hayward notwithstanding). Houston won’t have PF Ryan Anderson (plus-0.3 BPM) for Saturday’s game because of a sore hip, but they will have Paul, and that’s good enough for us here at the ranch.

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