Photo credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: James Harden
Betting odds: Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder
- Spread: Rockets -4.5
- Over/Under: 214
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV channel: TNT
>> All odds as of 12:45 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets
The 4-5 Houston Rockets visit the 6-4 Oklahoma City Thunder, who may or may not be without Russell Westbrook, who missed last night’s win with an ankle injury. Still, we have a line of -4. Is there value on either side? Our analysts discuss.
Mears: The Rockets Have Been Unlucky This Year
Houston was the first team to truly embrace Moreyball (which is obviously why it’s called that) — the idea of forgoing inefficient mid-range shots at the expense of more valuable 3-pointers and shows in the paint. It’s a somewhat high-variance strategy, and thus people throw out the adage, “Live by the 3; die by the 3.”
That’s somewhat true because 3-pointers are more random than other shots, and so far, the Rockets have been on the wrong side of variance this season.
They’re still taking a ton of 3-pointers: Per Cleaning the Glass, they rank first again in the league in 3-point rate (39.7%) and third in the corner. The problem, of course, is that they rank 25th (33.5%) in actually making those shots, which has some to do with losing guys like Trevor Ariza but is also a lot of poor luck.
On defense, it’s the same story. The Rockets rank third in the league in preventing 3-pointers — opponents are taking them only 28.9% of the time — and ninth in corner-3 frequency allowed (6.1%).
Houston’s opponents are about average on regular 3-pointers, but they’re an incredible 41.7% from the corner. The average is about 38% from that area, so the Rockets are due for positive regression in that area.
Diving deeper: Houston ranks seventh in the percentage of shots classified as open (a defender 4-6 feet away), but the Rockets are just 29th in field goal percentage on those.
They lead the league in open 3-pointers but have hit just 31.8% of them. You get the point: It’s easy to panic on Houston — they’re just 4-5 and have covered the spread in only three games — but sometimes teams get unlucky for a small stretch.
I’ll be buying this team over the coming weeks as regression hits. — Bryan Mears