Take Advantage on Overvalued Wolves in Houston

James harden and CP3

Jason Lake

Thursday, February 22, 2018 7:39 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 7:39 PM UTC

The Houston Rockets have the best record in the NBA, and if the stat nerds are right, they’re the correct NBA pick for Friday’s matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets

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Free NBA Pick: Rockets –7Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

Finally, there’s a viable third party in America. Basketball is no longer just about the Golden State Warriors versus the Cleveland Cavaliers; the Houston Rockets (44-13 SU, 28-28-1 ATS) have taken the NBA by storm, moving into first place in the overall standings at the All-Star break. Putting Chris Paul next to James Harden has worked out amazingly well for the Rockets. And head coach Mike D’Antoni’s “Seven Seconds or Less” offense is exactly what modern basketball is all about.

Then you have the Minnesota Timberwolves (36-25 SU, 28-31-2 ATS). They were expected to take another step forwards this year with the addition of Jimmy Butler, and so it has come to pass – but in a much different way than what’s been going on in Houston. No one will confuse head coach and defensive guru Tom Thibodeau with D’Antoni. Whose methods will prevail this Friday (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) when the Wolves descend on Houston?

Be Like Mike

Probably D’Antoni’s. At press time, the Rockets are 7-point home favorites on the NBA odds board. And that might be a bit parsimonious; according to Nate Silver’s gang of hoop nerds at FiveThirtyEight, Houston is projected to win 81 Friday’s game percent of the time, which works out to –9 using their CARMELO-based algorithms.

ESPN’s Basketball Power Index is less enthusiastic about the Rockets. They’ve got Houston winning 75.2 percent of the time, and that’s about the same as –7.5 using the numbers at Wizard of Odds. For a third opinion, Basketball Reference pegs the Rockets at plus-8.18 on their Simple Rating System, well ahead of Minnesota at plus-2.76. Give Houston the standard 2.5 points for home-court advantage, and you get... let’s see, carry the one... call it Rockets –8.

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With Trevor Ariza back from hamstring injury, Rockets' Mike D'Antoni has full roster and more choices to make https://t.co/nDVLi5RoCN via @HoustonChron

— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) February 22, 2018

In theory, we want a 2-point difference between the projected spreads and the actual spreads to be confident in our NBA picks. This isn’t an exact science, of course. Health messes things up a bit; both Trevor Ariza (hamstring) and Eric Gordon (knee) are expected to come off the injured list Friday, and they could be rusty in their first game back. The Rockets have also added veterans Joe Johnson and Brandan Wright to their bench as free agents. None of this will show up in the projections, but let’s go ahead and put a small sum on Houston; they’ve won 10 in a row (at 5-5 ATS), including a 126-108 victory over Minnesota as 3.5-point road faves.

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