Rockets-Lakers Betting Preview: Which Team Is Undervalued Coming Off a Loss?

Rockets-Lakers Betting Preview: Which Team Is Undervalued Coming Off a Loss? article feature image

Photos from USAToday Sports. Pictured: James Harden and LeBron James.

Betting odds: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers

  • Spread: Rockets -3.5
  • Over/Under: 234.5
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: ESPN

>> All odds as of noon ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets

LeBron James and James Harden coming off disappointing Game 1 losses? The King in his L.A. debut? That’s what we call appointment viewing. Our analysts are here to discuss everything you need to know before betting Saturday night’s showdown.

Locky: Is the High Total High Enough?

I think we can safely say that these teams turned in two of the more disappointing season openers.

For the Lakers, the problems were the ones we talked about all preseason — most notably a lack of shooting and defensive cohesion or identity.

For the Rockets, we now have serious questions about the role players and how effective they can be in the short term before the team becomes active again in changing the group. There just wasn’t anything from Carmelo Anthony or Michael Carter-Williams that made them look different than previous versions of themselves.

What does it all mean for betting this game specifically?

The over/under opened in what many would consider a high range, but what we have seen so far is that no total is safe with the pace these teams are playing at combined with the shorter shot-clock reset on offensive rebounds.

Also, keep in mind that Portland and L.A. shattered the totals in Game 1 despite the Blazers being one of the slower-paced teams last season.

Houston had problems in its opener against New Orleans with communication on defense and got burned from the 3-point line a number of times. But we know the Rockets still want to run, and they got the shots they wanted against the Pelicans. They just didn’t make them with frequency.

I would lean to the over at the current number (234.5) and think the energy in this game will create an atmosphere in which the Lakers will want to run with almost reckless abandon. Ken Barkley

Are the Rockets Undervalued After the Game 1 Loss?

Based on the way they played in their opener, it seems the Lakers are going to have to rely heavily on pace and transition to generate efficient offensive looks. They got out in transition on 25.7% of their plays (a super-high rate), and they also frequently pushed both off live rebounds and after made baskets.

That’s good, because shooting is going to be a struggle for L.A. this season: The Lakers shot just 23.3% from behind the arc, and that’s unlikely to change with Rajon Rondo playing the second-most minutes on the team and Luke Walton not pushing guys like Josh Hart and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope into the 30-minute range because he wants to get Lance Stephenson on the court.

The Rockets, meanwhile, are the same old Rockets.

Against New Orleans, 52.1% of Houston’s shots came from beyond the arc, continuing the offensive revolution we saw explode a season ago. The Rockets didn’t hit many of them (33.3%), but those nights will come. And against teams without shooting (such as the Lakers), the Rockets certainly have the potential to blow a game out.

For that reason, I think this market is overreacting a bit to Houston’s Game 1 loss to an excellent Pelicans team; there’s value in the Rockets -3.5. Bryan Mears

Betting Trends to Know

Under Mike D’Antoni, the Rockets are 39-14 straight up and 23-20 against the spread after a SU loss.

Dating back to the Cavaliers’ four-game sweep by the Warriors in the NBA Finals last season, LeBron James has now lost five consecutive games SU.

The last time LeBron dropped five straight, regular season or postseason (including streaks across seasons), was all the way back in February-March 2011.

LeBron has not lost six consecutive games SU since January 2006!

Since LeBron James joined Miami in 2010, his team has opened as a home underdog in the regular season only six times (all with the Cavaliers).

LeBron’s teams are 3-3 SU and ATS, losing three of their past four games in the spot.

  • 2/7/18 vs. Timberwolves (+3.5) — Won, 140-138
  • 2/3/18 vs. Rockets (+3.5) — Lost, 120-88
  • 1/15/18 vs. Warriors (+5.5) — Lost, 118-108
  • 3/25/17 vs. Wizards (+1.5) — Lost, 127-115
  • 12/25/16 vs. Warriors (+3.5) — Won, 109-108
  • 1/30/16 vs. Spurs (+1.5) — Won, 117-103 Evan Abrams

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.