Rockets-Spurs Betting Preview: Houston Is an Over Machine

Rockets-Spurs Betting Preview: Houston Is an Over Machine article feature image

Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports Pictured: Houston Rockets guard James Harden

Betting odds: Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs

  • Spread: Pick’em
  • Over/Under: 217
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

>> All odds as of 1 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets

The 9-11 Houston Rockets travel to face the 10-11 San Antonio Spurs on Friday night. These playoff hopefuls have had disappointing starts to the year, particularly on the defensive end. Can they get things going tonight or will overs continue to hit? Our analysts discuss.

Mears: Why I Like the Over

When looking at betting trends, I like to check the relationship between a team’s against-the-spread record of late and its over/under record. Take the Rockets, for example: They are 1-5 ATS in their last six, but all of those games have gone over the total.

That likely means their defense is the culprit, and look at these point totals they’ve allowed:

  • 11/28 vs. Dallas: 128
  • 11/26 at Washington: 135 (in OT)
  • 11/24 at Cleveland: 117
  • 11/23 at Detroit: 116 (in OT)
  • 11/21 vs. Detroit: 124
  • 11/17 vs. Sacramento: 112

Sure, two of those went to overtime, but these weren’t exactly high-powered offenses.

On the year, the Rockets rank 26th in Defensive Rating, 24th in effective field-goal percentage allowed, 29th in defensive rebound rate and 27th in free-throw rate. They are literally bottom six in three of the four defensive Four Factors. It’s not great.

A lot of that can be attributed to the absence of Chris Paul, who has missed the last three games with a leg injury and is questionable tonight. Without him, the Rockets have been 10.6 points per 100 possessions worse defensively — one of the highest marks in the league.

I’ll be monitoring his status today, and if he remains out, I think the total of 217 is too low. The Spurs, mind you, haven’t been good defensively either this year, sitting 25th with a putrid 112.5 Defensive Rating. — Bryan Mears

Betting Trends to Know

The Spurs are coming off a 39-point road loss against the Timberwolves — their worst loss since 2012, when they lost by 40 points in Portland. Many bettors would assume the Spurs would be a good bet to bounce back, especially early, in their next game after getting blown out under Gregg Popovich. Think again.

The Spurs are 26-35 (42.6%) against the first-half spread under Popovich since 2005, making Pop the fourth-least profitable coach in the NBA in this spot.

In their loss to the Timberwolves, the Spurs scored only 89 points — their second-lowest scoring output of the season. Their lowest scoring total of the season thus far came against the Heat earlier this month in Miami, losing 95-88.

The game after their 88-point performance, the Spurs came home to face the Rockets, just like they are on Friday night. San Antonio beat Houston 96-89 and covered as a 3.5-point home underdog.

With the new version of the Spurs over the last two seasons, San Antonio is 11-3 SU and 10-4 ATS the game after scoring fewer than 90 points, making the Spurs the second-most profitable team in the NBA in that spot behind the Pistons. — Evan Abrams

San Antonio and Houston each made the playoffs last season and both have losing records this year. Since 2005, when two such teams meet, it has not been profitable to fade the public. Teams receiving less than 50% of spread tickets in this scenario have gone 127-171-6 (42.6%) ATS. — John Ewing

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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