NBA Saturday Night Odds: Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs

Tim Duncan will return to action tonight after having missed the Spurs' past three games.
Tim Duncan will return to action tonight after having missed the Spurs’ past three games.

Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs
Time: 7:30 PM CT (NBA TV)
Spread: SAS -11.5
Total: 201.5

Betting odds c/o Pincle

The San Antonio Spurs have ever so quietly been stringing together a nice run at 28-6, but with all eyes on the Golden State Warriors, the Spurs are nearly under the radar. Nevertheless, the Spurs are undefeated (15-0) at home where it will host the 16-18 Houston Rockets.

NBA oddsmakers favor the Spurs by 11.5 points and the game will air on NBA TV at 7:30 Central time.

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The Spurs come in on a three-game win streak and winners of nine of its past 10 contests. The three wins most recent have come against the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns. In the 112-79 thumping of the Suns, new Spur LaMarcus Aldridge had a big game hitting 8 of 12 from the field en route to 21 points, 12 rebounds and a block.

The Spurs put three others in double-figures and led by 28 points at halftime. Phoenix would continue to be outplayed in a game that was never close. The Spurs outscored Phoenix 32-12 in the first quarter alone.

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Aldridge has seen his stats dip since becoming a part of the Spurs deep balanced attack. The All-Star is averaging 15.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.37 blocks/steals per game. The Spurs go-to star has been Kawhi Leonard, the 2014 Finals MVP. “The Claw” is averaging 20.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game while also coming up with 3.06 blocks/steals per game. Leonard is posting a team-high PER of 27.4 this season.

The Spurs have seven rotation players posting above average PERs, and the team averages 102 points per game.

Tim Duncan has missed the last three games due to knee soreness, but he is expected to play in this game.

The Rockets come in as losers of its past three games, dropping to the New Orleans Pelicans, Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors. But its last win came Christmas day over the Spurs, 88-84, and it will try to build on that confidence to knock off a much better team for a second-straight time.

The Rockets were unable to find an answer to the hot shooting of Klay Thompson in its most recent 114-110 loss to the Warriors. Thompson had 38 points on 16 of 27 shooting, easily trumping James Harden’s 30 point game on 8 of 19 shooting (Harden hit 5 of 10 from three-point range and 9 of 9 from the free throw line). Dwight Howard came through with a big game, hitting 8 of 9 from the field and 5 of 6 from the free throw line to finish with 21 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.

Howard has been more involved the Rockets’ last two games, and he has performed very well, hitting 18 of 21 from the field over the stint with an average of 25.5 points and 14.5 rebounds per game. It is the Howard we grew accustomed to seeing in Orlando, a double-double machine that can wreak havoc defensively.

If the Rockets are to turn it around this season, it will be by virtue of Howard asserting himself offensively. He is the No. 2 scorer on the Rockets but posts just 13.5 points per game, his lowest scoring average since his rookie season in 2004-05. Howard will also need increased production around him, from Trevor Ariza, Marcus Thornton and Terrence Jones, all of whom average 10 points per game or more.

Harden is going to get his. He sees 38 minutes a night and attempts nearly 20 field goals per game. But Harden is shooting just 41.6 percent from the floor and 34.4 percent from three-point range. The Rockets average 10.6 made threes per game at a 34.7 percent clip, and working an inside/outside game with Howard on the block is the way to get the most out of this talented roster.

Harden is a premier talent to be sure, but it remains unclear what types of players need to surround him to field a tough, contending team. With Ty Lawson having been mostly a bust acquisition, it stands to reason that GM Daryl Morey will be active this February around the trade deadline.

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