Rockets-Timberwolves Betting Preview: Can Houston Cover on the Road?
Photo credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Chris Paul and James Harden
Betting odds: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves
- Spread: Rockets -1.5
- Over/Under: 222
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
>> All odds as of 11:30 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets
The 11-11 Houston Rockets will travel to Minnesota tonight to take on the 11-12 Minnesota Timberwolves. Have Chris Paul, James Harden and Co. finally rebounded from a slow start? More importantly, can they cover as a short road dog tonight? Our experts discuss.
Locky: Why I’m Betting Houston
It seems like it’s taken forever, but is it actually possible that Houston is finally going to start looking like Houston? It’s understandable that struggles will follow after a team suffers a brutal postseason exit after a deep run and then makes so many changes to the role players in the rotation. But a quarter of the way into the season, we’re all kind of still waiting, but maybe not much longer.
Chris Paul is now back and has been for two games — both wins after the team dropped four straight. He recorded double-digit assists in each.
Not only is the Paul-James Harden-Clint Capela triumvirate that dominated headlines re-assembled, but the role players around them are back in some ways, too.
James Ennis is squarely a starter in the Trevor Ariza role. Nene is back from injury, which means Isaiah Hartenstein doesn’t have to play anymore, which matters greatly. An eight-man rotation that features neither Hartenstein nor Michael Carter-Williams, and instead features players who have been in the system before (like Gerald Green, Nene and P.J. Tucker) can only be an improvement going forward.
I think the Rockets are ready to take off and may be undervalued in their matchup against Minnesota tonight. The metrics and data that are feeding a rating of Houston have to be at least somewhat off-base — how does one quantify lineups and rotations that have been together for so little time this season and are just starting to gel?
If anything, Houston’s better basketball is ahead of them, and the market will be quick to catch up if they improve their play significantly going forward.
Meanwhile, in the new Timberwolves era — all 10 games of it without Jimmy Butler — the wins have come against lesser competition. In the two “test” games — home against both Denver and Boston — the Wolves lost as small favorites.
In each game, their offensive and defensive efficiencies were much, much poorer than against lesser competition, and both the Nuggets and Celtics shot extremely well from the field. The improving Rockets are just as good as those teams, so I like them to cover the small number. — Ken Barkley
Moore: A Word of Caution on the Rockets
I’m not ready to trust Houston as much as Ken is, but I will note that among players to play at least 20 minutes per game, Eric Gordon has the best Net Rating of any bench player in the league, despite a rough start shooting.
There are a lot of trends that lean towards Houston with how they’ve gotten healthy. But after a promising start, the Rockets defense has fallen off a cliff.
They’re now bottom 10 on the season in Defensive Rating, a trend that began in November as they started to right the ship. This is an imbalanced team, and that’s the kind of squad Minnesota can take advantage of at home.
Harden’s been absolutely berserk, though. The Rockets win a ton of games with Paul, Harden and Capela healthy. I’m just still nervous we might see a hiccup in Houston’s road to redemption vs. a team that’s way better than they look on paper, thanks in large part to whatever is going on with Derrick Rose’s 3-point shot. — Matt Moore
Betting Trends to Know
It has been a disappointing start to the season for the Rockets (11-11) and Timberwolves (11-12) — two playoff teams in 2017-18. Since 2005, when two playoff teams from the prior season meet and each has a .500 or worse record, the favorite has gone 245-219-7 (53%) ATS. Road favorites, like the Rockets, have gone 61-43-1 (59%) ATS. — John Ewing
The Rockets are streaking! Sort of. The Rockets have won two straight, but in their last eight games, the over is 8-0, going over the total by 22.6 PPG. Two of the eight games had a total of 220 or more during the streak, and Houston scored 132 and 131 points in the two games. — 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.