Memphis at Houston
Time: 7 PM CST (ESPN)
Spread: HOU -12.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Houston Rockets have won four straight and eight of its last 10 overall SU. It is 23-16 against fellow Western Conference teams and it hosts the Memphis Grizzlies at 7 PM CST on ESPN as 12.5-point favorites. The over/under is set at 237.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.
HOUSTON news & notes:
The Houston Rockets have won eight of its last 10, at 37-20 and seeded No. 4 in the Western Conference. It has just a 1.0 game lead on No. 5 Utah.
James Harden is averaging a silly 35.3 points per game on the season with 7.3 assists to his credit as well. He is connecting on 35.8 percent of his threes and 43.7 percent of his field goals while turning it over an “almost excusable” 4.5 times per game. It is excusable simply because Harden produces so much that it is a mere corollary of the ball being in his hands most of the time.
Westbrook has fared well as a Rocket, though. He is shooting 46 percent from the floor while posting per-game averages of 27.2 points, 8 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 2.5 blocks/steals in 36 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 eight 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 dealt center Clint Capela at the trade deadline to add “3 and D” specialist Robert Covington. Houston had fared well with Capela out this season and is now fully committed to the small ball that tends to promote its great regular season successes.
MEMPHIS news & notes:
The Memphis Grizzlies have snuck into the playoff picture after surging to improve to 28-29 on the season. It has lost its last three games overall.
In a year that was considered a rebuilding or tanking effort, Memphis has done anything but. The young Grizz are competing and winning games.
Memphis is led by a first-year point guard in Ja Morant and second-year forward Jaren Jackson Jr. Jackson leads the team in scoring at 18.1 points per game while coming up with 4.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 2.0 steals/blocks in just 28 minutes a game. Ja Morant is seeing 29.5 minutes per game and averaging 17.8 points, 6.9 assists, and 3.4 rebounds. Morant is shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 39 percent from three on 2.3 attempts per game. Jackson is shooting nearly 42 percent from three on 6.4 attempts per game. Memphis attempts 32.8 threes per game and connects on 36 percent as a team. He is currently sidelined and expected to be out at least two weeks.
The Grizzlies average the 8th-most points in the league at 113.4 per game. However, Memphis also has a bottom-five defense that allows 116.1 per game. Interestingly, the Grizzlies lead the league in assists per game with 27.9 per contest as a team. Between that chemistry and an improving defense, the Grizzlies may have a chance to stay in the top-8 and make the postseason in a year few considered it possible.