Will the 25-4 Houston Rockets make it a 15-game winning streak tonight? They’ll have to hold off the 10-18 Los Angeles Lakers in a home contest between two of the league’s most popular squads (8 p.m. ET Wednesday on NBATV).
Most people expected Houston to be an elite team this year, but the team has surpassed even its wildest expectations. The Rockets are outscoring their opponents by 11.3 points per game and haven’t lost any of the 15 games Chris Paul has played.
The rebuilding Lakers have performed about to expectations thus far, but their defense has surprisingly been much stronger than their offense. They have a very balanced and deep roster that is tough to game plan for.
The Rockets are a heavy favorite in this game. Will they show they deserve that distinction today? Let’s break it down and preview the game’s lines from the sports betting sites for United States’ players. Then we will give our Lakers vs. Rockets predictions and NBA picks.
Can the Lakers Catch Fire From Downtown?
This is something that basically can be copied and pasted for any Rockets opponent. We know Houston is going to jack up a bunch of threes, and the squad will probably hit a decent sum of those shots.
The question is whether the Lakers can stay reasonably close from behind the arc. The Lakers do take 16.4 fewer threes per game, but they also make 7.3 fewer per contest than the Rockets. Math tells us that Houston is getting 1.34 points per possession on those extra looks from downtown, which is absolutely fantastic offense.
Los Angeles’ forte certainly isn’t draining threes. But in this game, the Lakers will need to have a reasonably effective game from the outside.
Will the Rockets’ Short Rotation Become an Issue Against the Lakers’ Depth?
The one area where the Lakers are actually superior to the Rockets is in depth of quality players. Houston usually plays an eight or nine-man rotation, but Luc Mbah a Moute’s shoulder injury changes things a bit.
Against the Jazz on Monday, the Rockets basically played only seven players. Tarik Black came in for a short stint that was less than four minutes and only seven other guys saw time on the court.
The Lakers utilize a deeper bench, especially since Houston is dealing with a key injury. Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Jordan Hart and Corey Brewer all see rotation minutes off the pine.
If Los Angeles’ subs can provide extra energy that Houston’s regulars can’t because of smaller minutes, the Lakers have a chance at an upset.
Can the Lakers Keep the Rockets Off the Free-Throw Line?
James Harden of the Rockets is the NBA’s best perimeter player at drawing fouls. He attempts 9.5 free throws per game and often uses the charity stripe to put up big scoring nights even when his outside shot isn’t falling. Many of his teammates are also adept at getting to the line.
Los Angeles isn’t a terribly foul-prone team as a whole. However, most of the team’s big men do struggle in that area. Julius Randle, Brook Lopez, Larry Nance and Andrew Bogut all average at least 4.7 fouls per 36 minutes.
Harden very frequently creates difficult situations for opposing big men when he barrels down the lane. The Lakers’ strong depth at the big man spots could be negated if some of their key posts have to deal with foul trouble.
Our Preview’s LA Lakers at Houston Rockets Betting Picks & Predictions
Brook Lopez is out for the Lakers, which does hurt the team’s depth. Plus, I just don’t see the Lakers coming close to matching the Rockets’ production from outside in the contest. Houston’s streak will end at some point, but it definitely won’t happen in this contest.
This is also the sixth game of a home stand for the Rockets, while the Lakers have been traveling all over the place for the past couple of weeks. So here are our preview’s predictions and picks:
- Houston is a massive favorite at home, with a 14-point spread in this contest. Still, you should bet on the Rockets -14 @ -110 with Intertops or Bookmaker.
- The posted over/unders for this game are very high, around 225 or 225.5 in most cases. That’s understandable, given the Rockets’ offensive firepower and the Lakers’ fast pace. However, after a rugged recent schedule, I see the Lakers slowing it down and having a lot of trouble scoring. Bet with the under 225.5pts @ -110 with Bookmaker or MyBookie.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.