Charlotte at Houston
Time: 7 PM CST (NBA LP)
Spread: HOU -14
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Houston Rockets enter as winners of its last two, hosting the Charlotte Hornets at 7 PM (CST) on NBA League Pass. Houston is heavy 14-point favorites in a game with an over/under set at 224.5 total points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes. The game will tip-off at 7 PM (CST).
HOUSTON news & notes:
The Houston Rockets have won five of its last 10, at 31-18 and seeded No. 5 in the Western Conference. It has just a 1/2 game lead on No. 6 Dallas.
James Harden is averaging a silly 38.2 points per game on the season with 7.5 assists to his credit as well. He is connecting on 38 percent of his threes and 46 percent of his field goals while turning it over an “almost excusable” 4.7 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 43 percent from the floor while posting per-game averages of 24.2 points, 8 rebounds, 7.1 assists, and 1.9 blocks/steals in 35 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 have also got more offense out of center Clint Capela this season. He is averaging 13.9 points, 14.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks/steals per game. PJ Tucker has seen his role offensively increase, and he is taking advantage, averaging 8.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Eric Gordon has seen his role change with Westbrook aboard, and he is not doing as much as he had in the past two seasons, either.
The Charlotte Hornets are 16-34 and currently are 6.5 games behind No. 8 seeded Orlando.
The Hornets still have had some bright spots in its season, the brightest of which is Most Improved player candidate Devonte Graham. He leads the team in scoring at 18.6 points per game and also leads in assists at 7.7 per. Terry Rozier has flourished as a full-time starter, too, with his 17.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Rookie PJ Washington has been solid in averaging 12.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in just 30 minutes a night.
Also, Miles Bridges appears to have some star potential, particularly on the defensive end where he is drawing elite comparisons. The issue, perhaps, is that the Hornets have relied on four breakout players as its top-4 players altogether. Malik Monk nor Dwayne Bacon really made strides, and both were expected to be key scorers in time. The pair combine to average under 15 points per game. Also, the 5-spot is somewhat weak even if Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo are “decent.” Both really are replacement level players splitting time at a position Charlotte must upgrade. With several projects just not working out, but several others emerging, Charlotte must determine what it really has as a core and makes a wise 2020 draft selection.
At first appearance, the Hornets seem set in the backcourt with a promising power forward and “three and D” stopper. It must fill the 5-spot with a rim-protecting monster, and it presumably then could take a real step towards contention in 2020 and beyond.