Wizards vs. Rockets Free Picks: Washington to Cover +4

David Lawrence

Monday, December 29, 2014 1:41 PM GMT

Dwight Howard is back for the Houston Rockets, so how will the Wizards be able to win on the road against a good team? They’re a road dog according to the NBA betting lines.

The Washington Wizards have been one of the stronger teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference this season, but they’re going to have their hands full in Houston on Monday night when they take on the Rockets, who have been very impressive this season even when Dwight Howard has not been able to play. 

 

The Washington Wizards Can Win Because…
Their defense is extremely good. Washington allows an average of 96.6 points per game, just one tenth of a point behind the Indiana Pacers for first in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards’ addition of Paul Pierce has given them a veteran edge and some wisdom to go along with the youthful athleticism of John Wall and Brad Beal. The Wizards play coordinated defense and make great, crisp rotations. They are impressive in that their young players are committed to doing the not-so-glorious kinds of things that go into making a championship team. They’re not about flash and dash, though they can make plays in the open floor. They’re doing the dirty work.

What should also be said here is that Houston played a demanding and close game against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night. The Rockets and Spurs pushed each other for 48 minutes, and Houston could suffer playing the second end of a back-to-back set. Houston might not be ready to match Washington’s energy, given that the Wizards had Sunday off. One other matter is worth mentioning: Houston is only 6-4 in its last 10 games, while Washington is 8-2.

 

The Houston Rockets Can Win Because…
They've played tougher opponents over their last 10 games compared to Washington. The Rockets might be only 6-4 in their last 10, but they’ve played New Orleans, Atlanta, Portland, Memphis, and San Antonio in order over their last five. That’s a nasty stretch, especially since Atlanta is a strong team this season. Washington’s last 10 games have come against Boston, Orlando, the Los Angeles Clippers, Utah, Minnesota, Miami, Phoenix, Chicago, the New York Knicks, and Boston again. The Clippers and Chicago are the only really good teams in that set of 10 opponents, and Phoenix is the third-best team in that group. The Wizards just haven’t been tested the way the Rockets have in recent weeks, so that has to be taken into consideration.

Also realize that the San Antonio Spurs – who beat the Rockets on Sunday night – had just lost a pair of games and were playing at home in a desperate situation. San Antonio has been losing a lot of close games to good teams without a full lineup. The fact that the Spurs finally won a big game against a good team is more a reflection of their ability to regroup than it is a negative commentary on the Rockets. Houston should still be taken very seriously, especially at home.

 

Outlook
The Wizards’ fresher legs should keep this game very close, but James Harden is a hard player to bet against in the final minutes of a close game. Washington covers the NBA odds, but Houston wins outright by three points. Take the Wizards on the betting spread for your NBA pick tonight.

Free NBA Pick: Washington +4 at YouWager