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Celtics vs. Rockets Betting Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions: Should Bettors Trust James Harden & Co. in Houston?

Celtics vs. Rockets Betting Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions: Should Bettors Trust James Harden & Co. in Houston? article feature image

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets.

  • The updated betting odds for the Boston Celtics vs. Houston Rockets matchup on Tuesday night makes Houston a short home favorite (spread: -2.5) with the over/under coming in at 232.5.
  • The spread has remained relatively stagnant throughout the day, but the total has slowly risen this evening.
  • Our NBA betting experts give detail how their betting Celtics-Rockets with betting trends and analysis below.

Celtics at Rockets Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions

  • Spread: Rockets -2.5
  • Over/Under: 230
  • Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: TNT

Odds as of Tuesday and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.

The Rockets have been among the worst teams to bet as a favorite this season (19-25 against the spread) and have covered in just 50% of their home games this season.

As they attempt to integrate their small-ball style, the Rockets welcome the Boston Celtics to the Toyota Center on Tuesday who happen to play well on the road. So should you take the Rockets as short home favorites?

Our crew breaks down the betting angles of this East vs. West national TV matchup.

Betting Trend to Know

In the Stevens era, the Celtics are 119-89-3 (57%) ATS as dogs. This includes 90-58-1 (61%) ATS as road underdogs. — John Ewing

Bryan Mears: Celtics Thrive on the Road

I grabbed this at Celtics +2, as I think it’ll move down throughout the day: 58% of the bets and 59% of the money is on the Celtics spread at the time of writing.

(We’ve already tracked one steam move on the Celtics at +2.5 and nothing yet on the Rockets, which suggests, for now, that’s the side the sharps like.)

My reasoning: The Celtics just seem to be continually undervalued in this spot.

In Brad Stevens’ coaching career, the Celtics are 90-58-1 (60.8%) as road underdogs. They’ve covered by nearly three points a game, turning an astounding +18.9% ROI for bettors.

And that’s remained true just this season: The Celtics are 8-4 in this spot. Overall, they’re 15-9-1 on the road and 11-4 as a dog.

My colleague, Matt Moore, has written about this phenomenon before, and Stevens has even addressed it. In these tough games — on the road, as a dog, on the second leg of a back-to-back — it’s a chance for a team to get an unexpected win. While some franchises might chalk those up to “schedule losses,” it seems the Celtics really prioritize these games.

As for the on-court matchup, it’s nice that the Celtics are getting back to full health. Jaylen Brown is active, which means they’ll be back to their normal starting lineup — something that hasn’t been the case very often of late. And despite that they’ve been great lately, sitting second in the league over the past two weeks with a +10.8 Net Rating.

The matchup against the Rockets is interesting after Houston’s trades. The Rockets are fully embracing center-less basketball, playing PJ Tucker, Thabo Sefolosha and even Robert Covington at center in small-ball lineups. This strategy makes them susceptible to great bigs, but that’s not the Celtics’ game; perhaps that’s a leg up for the Rockets.

I’m a fan of what the Rockets did, as I’ve written. They weren’t winning a title with the current roster, and Capela wasn’t really being used in a way that helped them. As they’ve gravitated to more ISO ball with James Harden, they’ve needed a rolling center less. And even with Capela, the defense was bad. At that point, what’s the value of having him on the court?

But the Rockets still have the same issues they did before, even with an intriguing wing in Covington, who should help. The biggest one is while they have a great, modern offense predicated around bombing 3s, they just don’t have shooters. Covington was a solid addition, but Russell Westbrook is a 24% 3-point shooter. He’s been using more than 40% of the Rockets’ possessions of late; that’s just oil in water for what Houston is about.

Eric Gordon, one of the Rockets’ highest-upside shooters, is out in this one with an injury. So this game will really come down to what all Rockets games come down to: Will the Rockets role-players hit spot-up shots?

In games they have (or Harden goes ballistic), they win and cover. In games they haven’t, they lose and fail to cover.

That’s pretty tough to predict, and I trust the Celtics defense, especially Jayson Tatum, to make them work really hard. Combine that with how awesome Boston has been in this spot, and I like +2 here.

John Ewing: Betting a Boston Bounceback

The Celtics hurt my feelings on Sunday. They closed as 1.5-point favorites in OKC, were up four and in line to cover until a Chris Paul 3-pointer with 0.3 second left hosed bettors.

One of those meaningless threes that aren’t meaningless.

Celtics -1.5. ❌

— John Ewing (@johnewing) February 9, 2020

The public might be hesitant to back the Celtics after that brutal no cover, but I’m jumping back on the horse. Boston has consistently exceeded expectations as regular season underdogs as noted above.

The Celtics are also playing great basketball winning 10 of their past 11 and Jayson Tatum has averaged 28.8 points per game in the team’s past five outings.

The PICK: Celtics +2

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.

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