Houston Rockets at Brooklyn Nets
Time: 6 PM CST (ESPN)
Spread: HOU -3.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Houston Rockets is 3-1 on the season and it enters this nationally televised affair as winners of its last three. The Rockets have defeated New Orleans, Oklahoma City, and Washington since losing its season opener to the Milwaukee Bucks. Houston is 3.5-point favorites visiting the Brooklyn Nets, with the over/under set at 240.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
Rockets News and Notes:
Houston’s last game against the Wizards was a high-scoring affair for the ages. Houston won 159-158 in regulation, outscoring Washington an absurd 48-41 in the game’s final quarter. Houston scored 35 or more in all four quarters, and James Harden was the main carrier of the load as one would expect. Beard had 59 points and nine assists, shooting 18 of 32 from the field, 6 of 14 from three-point range, and 17 of 18 from the free-throw line. Harden is averaging a silly 36.8 points per game on the season with 8.8 assists to his credit as well. While his 22.2 percent from three clearly needs improving, he is taking an enormous offensive load on, even with Russell Westbrook joining him (essentially replacing Chris Paul in the lineup).
Westbrook has fared well as a Rocket, though. He is shooting 48.5 percent from the floor while posting per-game averages of 22.5 points, 12 rebounds, 10.3 steals and 2.0 blocks/steals in 34 minutes a night. The Rockets thus far appear to have great chemistry, which was something that was both developed quickly and unexpected by many naysayers and pundits who mostly felt that Harden and Westbrook would be unable to share the ball well together. Due to the fact that both rely on having the ball in their hands to create offense, it remains to be seen how long and how well this pairing of Westbrook and Harden works.
The pair once was together in OKC, but neither is used to the role they respectively played during that time. Westbrook has averaged 11.5 assists per game over the last two, and his minutes seem to be locked in at 33 to 35 per game, which should take some of the load off of it, in the name of the ever-present “load management.”
The Rockets have also got more offense out of center Clint Capela this season. He is averaging 16 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks/steals per game. PJ Tucker has seen his role offensively increase, and he is taking advantage, averaging 14.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
Houston has a really strong top-6, but its depth beyond that is questionable and rather weak. It probably will not matter a lot, but it is not difficult to see foul trouble causing the Rockets major headaches against the other contending teams in the Western Conference.
Nets News and Notes:
The Nets are 1-3 this season and 1-2 SU at home. The only win it has thus far to its credit is a four-point win over the New York Knicks. But the Nets have been in every game, losing two of the three by just a point.
Brooklyn has been getting amazing scoring nights out of newly acquired point guard Kyrie Irving. He is averaging 35.3 points per game while shooting 47.5 percent from the floor and 40 percent from downtown on 10 (!) attempts per game. Caris LeVert has been inconsistent but is still averaging 18.5 points per game, while Spencer Dinwiddie has continued to thrive in the role of super sub.
The Nets are a tough team with a lot of underrated players, but the addition of DeAndre Jordan has not made a lot of sense. Jordan mostly just gets in the way of the development of the younger (and better) Jarrett Allen.
Allen is averaging 27 minutes while Jordan sees the other 21, but ideally, this should level out to be more like 35 Allen and just 13 to DeAndre. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Allen could be the Nets’ starting center for the next decade, and the signing of Jordan does not seem to signal that supreme confidence in his talents, necessarily, anyway. Of course, the Nets could just drastically alter the whole picture at the 5-spot when Kevin Durant returns next season and it “gets real.”