Houston at Memphis
Time: 7 PM CST (NBA TV)
Spread: HOU -5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Houston Rockets have won seven of its last 10 SU and will travel to face the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of an NBA TV Tuesday night doubleheader. Houston is 5-point favorites over Memphis, with the over/under set at 240.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
The Houston Rockets have won nine of its last 12 overall to arrive at 26-12 and the No. 4 spot in the West thus far. It is 14-4 at the Toyota Center where it hosts tonight’s game.
Superstar guard 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.
But then again, this is a Houston team that averages 119.4 points per game, so perhaps asking for more offense from any player at this point resembles nothing but greed.
The Memphis Grizzlies have snuck into the playoff picture after winning five-straight games to improve to 18-22 on the season. 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.
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.