NBA Handicapping Picks: Houston Rockets at Atlanta Hawks

Houston Rockets at Atlanta Hawks
Philips Arena – Atlanta, Georgia
Friday, January 10, 2014, 7:35 pm Eastern, TV: CSN-Houston, SportsSouth, NBA LP
Opening Line: H0uston -3 1/2
Current Line: Houston -3
Opening Total: 208
Current Total: 206 1/2
Opening Money Line: Rockets -160 / Hawks +135
Current Money Line: Rockets -150 / Hawks +130

The Atlanta Hawks host the Houston Rockets Friday night.
The Atlanta Hawks host the Houston Rockets Friday night.

The 23-13 Houston Rockets travel to the 19-17 Atlanta Hawks in a battle 0f playoff contenders Friday night. Houston is 5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division. The Rockets are currently tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for the #4 seed in the West. Atlanta is 8 games behind the Miami Heat in the Southeast Division but the Hawks are one of only 3 teams in the Eastern Conference with a winning records along with the Heat and Indiana  Pacers.

Houston has beaten Atlanta six straight times, including 113-84 in Houston November 27. In that game Rockets’ guard James Harden sat out with a sore left foot. However, Francisco Garcia and Aaron Brooks both scored 21 points off the bench as the Rockets won in a rout. This is the last scheduled meeting between the teams this season.

Houston is coached by Kevin McHale. The Rockets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 113-99 Wednesday night in Houston. It was the second straight win for the Rockets after a two game losing streak. This is the start of a four game road trip for Houston that includes trips to Atlanta, Washington, Boston, and New Orleans. The Rockets are 18-16-2 ATS and the total is 18-18 this season.

The Rockets are outscoring teams 106-102 this season. Houston is #3 in scoring and #24 in points allowed in the NBA. The Rockets shoot 47.3% from the field and 34.2% from three point range. Houston is #3 in field goal percentage, but #24 in three point shooting. The Rockets are #29 in free throw shooting at 69.2% from the line. Opponents are shooting 43.8% from the field and 35.4% from three point range. Houston is #6 in field goal defense and #13 in three point defense. The Rockets average 45.3 rebounds per game and opponents average 42 per game. Houston is #6 in rebounds and #7 in rebounds allowed. The Rockets average 20 assists, 7.6 steals, 5.97 blocks, and 16.3 turnovers per game. Opponents average 21.3 assists, 8.7 steals, 5.5 blocks, and 13.7 turnovers per game.

Harden is averaging 24.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Harden is fifth in the league in scoring. Power forward/center Dwight Howard averages 17.8 points, 12.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1 steal, and 1.8 blocks per game. He is third in rebounding in the league. Small forward Chandler Parson is doubtful with a knee injury after missing the Laker game Wednesday night. Parsons averages 17.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Point guard Jeremy Lin averages 14.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1 steal a game. Forward Terrance Jones averages 10.3 points, 7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game. back-up point guard Patrick Beverley is out until at least early February with a broken hand. He averages 9.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Forward Omri Casspi and guards Brooks and Garcia also get time in the rotation. Center Omer Asik is out indefinitely with a thigh injury. Forward Greg Smith is listed as questionable Friday for undisclosed reasons.

Atlanta is coached by Mike Budenholzer, in his first season. The Hawks beat the Pacers 97=87 Wednesday night in Atlanta. The Pacers have the best record in the league at 28-7. Atlanta had lost 3 straight games before that game. The Hawks are currently in a stretch of four home games in five games. The Hawks are 20-16 ATS and the total is 21-15 this season.

Atlanta is outscoring 102-100 this season. The Hawks are #13 in scoring and #15 in points allowed. Atlanta is shooting 45.9% from the field and 37.1% from 3 point range. The Hawks are #8 in field goal percentage and #7 in three point shooting. Atlanta is also #8 in free throw shooting at 77.2% from the line. Hawks’ opponents are shooting 45.5% from the field and 34.6% from 3 point range. The Hawks are #17 in field goal defense and #9 against the three point shot. Atlanta averages 41.5 rebounds per game and opponents average 44.1. The Hawks are #24 in rebounding and #22 in rebounds allowed. Atlanta averages 25.4 assists, 8.6 steals, 4.6 blocks, and 15.3 turnovers per game. Opponents average 22.8 assists, 7.8 steals, 4.7 blocks, and 15.4 turnovers a game.

Atlanta center Al Horford is out for the season for the Hawks with a torn pectoral muscle. He averaged 18.6 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. Forward Paul Millsap averages 17.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game. Point guard Jeff Teague averages 16.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 7.9 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Guard Kyle Korver averages 12.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.1 steals. Guard Louis Williams averages 9.8 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. Forward DeMarre Carroll averages 9.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Mike Scott, Shelvin Mack, Cartier Martin, Pero Antic, and Elton Brand also get significant minutes. Guard John  Jenkins is out indefinitely with a back injury.

Houston is 1-3-1 ATS against teams with winning records, 1-3-1 overall, 2-7-1 after a straihgt up win, 1-4-1 against Southeast teams, 1-5-1 after a cover, and after one day rest. The Rockets are 4-0 ATS in the last 4 overall against the Hawks, and 5-0 ATS in their last 5 trips to Atlanta.

Atlanta is 4-0 ATS against Western Conference teams, 7-1 in Friday games, 5-1 at home, 4-1 against teams with a winning percentage of .600 or better, 8-2 when the opponent scored 100 points or more in the last game, 6-2 against teams with winning records, and 34-16-1 on one day rest. The last four games played in Atlanta in this series have gone over the total.

Atlanta wasn’t a great rebounding team even before Horford went down, and Dwight Howard should have a field day in his home town of Atlanta. Atlanta also can’t stop James Harden. The Rockets should win easily.

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