76ers vs. Rockets Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions: Updated Spread, Line & Analysis for Friday’s Matchup
Photo credit: David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden and Joel Embiid
- The latest betting odds for Friday night's Philadelphia76ers vs. Houston Rockets game pegs Houston as a slight favorite (spread: Rockets -4) with the over/under at 228.
- Which side should you be betting in this Friday night NBA showdown (8 p.m. ET)? Our experts analyze the updated odds and give their picks, including the spread and over/under.
Philadelphia 76ers at Houston Rockets Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions
- Spread: Rockets -4
- Over/Under: 226.5
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: ESPN
Odds as of Friday afternoon and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150). No strings attached. No rollover required.
The long, defensive 76ers, who allow the fewest 3-pointers in the league, go up against James Harden and the Rockets, who continue to set NBA records for 3-point shooting. It’s the ultimate clash of styles.
Our NBA staff breaks down how they’re betting this game below.
Justin Phan: Fade Sixers on the Road?
I’m continuing to fade the Sixers on the road, where they are now 1-7 this season against teams that currently have a winning record.
The Rockets are the healthiest they’ve been in months, and James Harden (toe) and Clint Capela (heel) appear to be totally over the minor ailments that landed them on the injury report prior to Tuesday’s game.
Houston has a full four days off until its next game, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see coach Mike D’Antoni extend his starters’ minutes in this one.
Bet: Rockets -4
Matt Moore: Will Houston Break Philly’s Defense?
The Rockets obviously are 3-point obsessed. They lead the league in 3-point attempts per 100 possessions, as they have each year for the past three years. The Sixers, meanwhile, give up the fewest 3-point attempts in the league at just 27 per 100 possessions. They have the length to help down in pick-and-rolls and then recover to the outside.
What’s interesting is that the Sixers are actually 17th in catch-and-shoot defense efficiency. They allow 37% shooting on catch-and-shoot opportunities. So there might be a weakness there if the Rockets keep bombing.
Except… when I looked at the specific players who made those catch-and-shoot J’s against them, a pattern emerged.
It’s not primarily 2-guards. There are a few big wings, but it’s mostly stretch-4s and -5s … the big men. That matches with Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris being below the 50th percentile in defending spot-ups.
The catch here is that while the Rockets don’t have a center of that nature, they do have PJ Tucker. The Sixers give up the fewest corner-3s in the league but the eighth-highest percentage. Tucker is shooting 38% from 3. He leads the league in corner 3s and is shooting over 40% on them. That’s going to be the swing of the game.
Getting anything meaningful from past results is tough here, given how different both teams are. But Al Horford is 1-3 the past two years vs. Harden. The Sixers are 3-5 this year vs. teams top-10 in 3-point rate (3-4-1 ATS).
Typically I lean towards teams that can take away the other team’s strength. But Houston is uniquely positioned to bend that defense backward, particularly at home. Giving fewer than two possessions is a good enough line for me.
Bet: Rockets -4
Bryan Mears: My Thoughts on the Game
[I’m] continuing to fade the Sixers on the road, where they are now 1-7 this season against teams that currently have a winning record. The Rockets are the healthiest they’ve been in months, and James Harden (toe) and Clint Capela (heel) appear to be totally over the minor ailments that landed them on the injury report prior to Tuesday’s game. Houston has a full 4 days off until their next game so it wouldn’t be surprising to see coach D’Antoni extend his starters’ minutes in this one.
The Sixers have notable home/road splits this season:
- Philly overall: +4.5 Net Rating | 13th on offense | fifth on defense
- Philly at home: +11.6 Net Rating | seventh on offense | first on defense
- Philly on the road: -2.5 Net Rating | 16th on offense | 12th on defense
They’re a very hot-and-cold team. Just look at their recent games.
They’ve had stretches of offensive explosion, notably in that three-game stretch culminating in the Milwaukee game. But they’ve also had major lulls, especially in their past three games.
Now, part of that is just shooting variance: Over those last three games, the Sixers have ranked sixth in shots classified as “open,” but they’ve posted a miserable 41.7% eFG% on those — fifth-worst in the league. Honestly, that’s how it goes sometimes with teams with poor shot profiles.
The Sixers are 23rd and 25th, respectively, in shots at the rim and behind the arc this season. When those teams go cold, it can be ugly — the math just doesn’t work in their favor.
Maybe that turns around today — the Rockets haven’t exactly been world-beaters this season defensively, and that’s been true lately, too — but there’s some uncertainty with that side of the ball.
The Sixers’ defense vs. the Rockets’ offense is much more interesting, though. Everyone knows what Houston wants to do: Get to the rim, get to the foul line and shoot a historic number of 3-pointers.
The Sixers foul a bunch, which should be a source of efficiency for James Harden and Co., but they also allow the fewest 3-pointers in the league and have Joel Embiid to protect the rim.
The Sixers are somewhat more theoretical than actual so far defensively this season, however. Despite their rim-protecting talent, they’re actually bottom-10 in FG% allowed at the rim. And despite not allowing many 3-pointers, opponents tend to shoot well against them on said shots.
We don’t have a lot of data on what these teams would look like against each other. The rosters are obviously different from last season, and they’ve yet to play each other this season.
In one of the games last year — a Rockets win — Embiid didn’t play and the Rockets dominated, shooting 69.0% at the rim and scoring 102.5 points/100 in the halfcourt. In the other game — a Philly route with Embiid — the Rockets shot 48.0% at the rim and scored just 80.3 points/100 in the halfcourt.
Again, the Sixers are theoretically a team built to beat the Rockets. They have awesome perimeter defenders in Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson to push Harden, they don’t allow many 3s and they have Embiid to patrol the paint. But they’re on the road, where they’ve struggled, and they haven’t proven themselves to be consistent defensively despite their immense talent.
I think there’s a bit of value on the Rockets at the current number, but their games are incredibly volatile given the long-range shooting. If I do end up deciding to bet the spread here, I likely won’t bet a full unit on it for that reason. I also think there’s likely a small bit of value left on the over.
Leans: Rockets, over
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.