A current NBA title contender visits a future title contender today in a contest between the 3-1 Houston Rockets and the 1-3 Philadelphia 76ers (7pm ET Wednesday).
The Rockets have been without new star point guard Chris Paul since the second half of their first game, but they’ve done a solid job without him. Houston still has several very good players on its roster, including superstar guard James Harden.
Philadelphia has struggled out of the gate, mostly due to poor play from its bench. Young cornerstones Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have been impressive, however.
Will home-court advantage spur the young Sixers on to a win, or will the Rockets’ talent and experience pay off? Let’s preview the game and then give our predictions and picks considering the U.S. sports betting sites’ lines.
Can Clint Capela Keep Joel Embiid From Going Off?
Embiid is one of the biggest stars in the NBA right now, both literally and figuratively. Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown is limiting his minutes to just 27.7 per game because of his injury history, but Embiid is still putting up 19.7 points and 12 rebounds per contest.
The Sixers’ 23-year-old center is a matchup nightmare because he combines his seven-foot, 250-pound frame with excellent quickness, great strength and a soft shooting touch from inside and outside.
Capela is another rising young center, but he’s no Embiid. He is not as laterally quick as his Philly counterpart, and he is neither as big or as strong as his opponent. His skill set is essentially protecting the rim, grabbing rebounds and finishing well around the rim. Will Embiid’s finesse game be too much for Capela? We will certainly see.
Will the Rockets’ Three-Point Game Finally Get Going?
Houston has been in the league’s top two for three-point attempts per game for the past five years, and this year has been more of the same. The Rockets lead the league with 42.8 downtown attempts per contest through four games.
While Houston’s offense has been mostly efficient overall, it hasn’t gotten its trademark long-distance shooting attack to work. The Rockets have put in a mere 27.5 percent of their outside shots.
Regression to the mean seems likely at some point, but the fact that the Rockets are 3-1 with terrible outside shooting has to be encouraging for them.
Does the 76ers Bench Have a Breakout Performance In It?
These are the combined per-game stats of the Sixers’ five bench players with the most minutes played this season (Dario Saric, Markelle Fultz, T.J. McConnell, Amir Johnson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot): 23.3 points, 14.7 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 5.9 turnovers on a shooting slash of 32.1/22.6/58.1.
If all those numbers are confusing, here’s the gist of it: the Sixers’ reserves have been ghastly this season, possibly costing the team a couple of wins. If it went for the starting group of Jerryd Bayless, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid playing so well, Philadelphia would be one of the worst teams in the league.
Saric and Fultz are explosive offensive players, and McConnell, Luwawu-Cabarrot and Johnson all can lock up their matchups on defense. Can at least a couple of them play to their potential today?
Our Preview’s Houston Rockets vs. Philadelphia 76ers Betting Picks & Predictions
Houston is due for some hot shooting, and the talented squad should be motivated to play to the best of its ability after a disappointing loss against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday. The Sixers’ bench will probably play better, but the Rockets shooting well should override that.
- The Rockets are pegged as 3.5-point favorites in Philadelphia. Even without Chris Paul, they are considerably better than the Sixers. My pick is to bet on Houston -3pts @ -110 with Bovada or 5Dimes.
- I think both teams have underachieved somewhat with their offense performances so far, and they should recover today. So for the total points, this preview’s betting prediction is to take the over 220.5pts @ -110 with either 5Dimes, Bookmaker or MyBookie. The spread is higher with the other firms.
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.