After making a run from the middle of December to the first part of the new year, Brooklyn has been in reverse and lost the faith of those making sports picks once again for their desultory play.
The Nets were tickling the twine (OK, its nylon) on offense in winning six of seven (5-2 ATS) and were starting to move up in the standings and command the respect of NBA basketball handicappers from Dec. 19 thru Jan. 2. However, since that time Brooklyn has lost five in a row (1-4 ATS) and regressed.
Will the Nets be able to turn it around on their home court versus a Houston squad that has won and covered three straight in convincing fashion against the NBA odds?
Brooklyn’s Offense has Been Offensive
Let the record show the Nets offense is miserable to start with, averaging 95.3 points a game, which is 4.9 points lower than what their opponents have conceded on the season. Brooklyn is 25th in scoring in the league and for those who handicap the NBA odds using a variety of metrics to seek answers; this team does not paint a pretty picture, ranking in the low to mid-20’s in nearly every truly important meaningful offensive stat.
The current five-game losing stretch has them tallying a mere 86.8 point a contest and converting on only 41.2 percent of attempts. Compare that to when they were playing well and executing, scoring 101.8 PPG.
Three of Brooklyn’s top four scorers are north of 30’s old in Joe Johnson (16.5 per game), Brook Lopez (26 years old – 14.8), Deron Williams (13.9) and Jarrett Jack (10.7). Not one of these older fellas is going to suddenly develop new skills and let’s not forget Kevin Garnett at 38.
Are the Nets prepared to turn it around against a much better team in Houston having lost and failed to cover four consecutive home games?
Houston Should Have Single-Minded Approach
The Rockets are 26-11 and 21-15-1 ATS and need to enter this matchup with one goal in mind. Houston averages 101.5 PPG on the season and when they reach the century mark, they are 20-3 and 18-4-1 ATS.
While it is not a given this will occur since Brooklyn is sixth in scoring defense at 97.7 PPG, nonetheless, James Hardin and his crew average 104.8 PPG on the road, which is an indicator as to why the Rockets are 13-5 and 10-7-1 ATS away from home.
“We have been handling ourselves well on the road,” Harden said. “We are a good team. To be a great team, you have to play really well on the road. That’s one of the goals.”
Coach Kevin McHale is fortunate to have veteran players like forward Trevor Ariza, guard Jason Terry, and center Dwight Howard who understand the rigors of the road and bring a sense of calm to the locker room yet focus to get the job done. This group has been good to those making NBA picks on the road.
Betting Odds and Head to Head
The sportsbooks sent Houston out as 6.5-point road favorites with a total of 193.5. The Rockets have never minded this trip since they are 12-6 and 11-6-1 ATS as the visitor versus the Nets.
Brooklyn could really stand to pull the upset with Memphis in town in two days before having a pair of matchups with Washington, playing three times in four days. The Nets are 9-10 SU and ATS with a day between contests.
Houston leaves Brooklyn to head to Orlando on Wednesday, which is followed immediately by a home game with Oklahoma City, with a night off before Golden State is in H-Town on Saturday. The Rockets are only 7-11-1 ATS with a day off despite their 12-7 record.
It would be easy to take the Rockets in this situation, but this is the NBA and what seems apparent seldom is. This is just the right spot for Rockets to be a bit flat and Brooklyn to be hungry and make this a competitive tilt.
With the lower total, Houston winning would not be a surprise, just make this a three-point contest with the Nets netting a cover.
NBA Basketball Free Pick: Brooklyn +6.5 at 5Dimes