The Houston Rockets needed overtime to beat the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. The Rockets have one day to recover for their next opponents, the Phoenix Suns, here our NBA pick for tonights game.
Jason’s record as of Dec. 5: 14-12 ATS, 0-3 Totals
You’d think a team like the Houston Rockets would have little trouble putting away a team like the Minnesota Timberwolves. And you’d normally be right. But Houston got all it could handle Friday night, as the pesky Wolves (+7 at home) nearly stole the win before falling 114-112 in overtime. Sure, the Rockets had 40 percent of their starting lineup out there, but still.
There might be some reinforcements on the way for Saturday’s home game (8:00 p.m. ET) against the Phoenix Suns, who are coming off a very strong 118-106 victory over the Dallas Mavericks (–5.5 at home). But as we go to press, we’re still not sure who’s going to suit up for the Rockets, and the NBA odds are on hold until we get some clarification. Get used to it.
The biggest of the question marks for Houston (15-4 SU, 10-9 ATS) is very big, indeed. Dwight Howard (20.2 PER) has missed the last eight games with a strained right knee, and just to mess things up for our NBA picks, the Rockets keep saying Howard could return at any time. We’ll believe it when we see it. Mark Berman at FOX 26 says Howard’s not likely to play this weekend, so let’s run with that.
Meanwhile, imagine if the basketball odds hinged on whether or not Terrence Jones (19.4 PER) were going to play. He’s been day-to-day for about a month now, following the contusion he suffered on his right leg at some point in early November. Or was it late October? It’s a mystery. Jones has gotten in some limited practices lately, but there’s no official timetable for his return.
The Real King James
Rounding out our missing starters is Patrick Beverley (15.9 PER), who’s day-to-day with a strained hamstring that’s cost him the past six games – this is a different hamstring injury than the one he suffered earlier in November. Rockets head coach Kevin McHale says Beverley is the closest to returning of his three injured starters. It could be on Saturday, but the word on the street is that next Wednesday is more likely.
Despite all these injuries, the Rockets have managed to take the lead in the Southwest Division with six wins in their last seven games at 4-3 ATS. They beat the Memphis Grizzlies (–5 away) 105-96 using a patchwork starting lineup including Tarik Black (12.1 PER), Donatas Motiejunas (12.3 PER) and Jason Terry (12.8 PER). Maybe this will be the year that James Harden (25.3 PER) breaks through and wins the MVP award – you can’t laugh at his defense (plus-2.3 DBPM) anymore, either.
The Suns (12-8 SU, 11-8-1 ATS) haven’t always come through for us this year, but they’ve won seven of their last 10 games SU and ATS to move into the top half of the Western Conference table. There’s been a roster tweak since we last visited Phoenix; Marcus Morris (11.0 PER) has been moved back to the bench in favor of defensive specialist P.J. Tucker (12.7 PER), who started 81 games for Phoenix last year.
Tucker began the 2014-15 campaign on the suspended list after pleading guilty to a DUI offense from earlier this spring. Phoenix has won back-to-back games SU and ATS since Tucker was re-inserted into the starting lineup; splitting up the Morris Twins doesn’t seem to have hurt Markieff Morris (18.0 PER), who posted 22 points and 10 rebounds against Dallas with a team-high plus-24. Tucker was next at plus-18.
At some point, Isaiah Thomas (22.9 PER) is going to get back on the floor, but he too is listed as day-to-day with a bruised right ankle. We’ll assume he doesn’t play Saturday, and we’ll add Phoenix to our NBA picks anyway. Don’t sleep on the Suns this year.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Suns
Check out SBR's live NBA odds page to compare prices once the lines are released.