Lakers vs. Rockets Betting Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions: Sharp Action Pounding Over/Under
Photo credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James and James Harden
Lakers at Rockets Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions
- Spread: Rockets -2
- Over/Under: 234.5
- Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: ABC
Odds as of Saturday afternoon and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
The Saturday night primetime game returns this weekend with the first edition this season of Lakers-Rockets.
Will the Rockets get hot from outside and hold serve at home? Or will the Lakers continue to show they’re the class of the West?
Our experts break down all the angles you need to know tonight.
Lakers-Rockets Sharp Report
This line opened at Rockets -1 before it was widely available in the market, and bettors hit the Rox immediately, pushing it up to -1.5, which is where it opened across the majority of books.
It got pushed up all the way to 2.5 earlier this morning before bettors steamed the Lakers at +2.5 (per Sports Insights):
Since then it’s oscillated between 2 and 2.5, which is interesting considering the Lakers are clearly the public favorite. As of 3:30 p.m. ET, they’re getting 72% of the bets and 84% of the money.
For the over/under, it seems sharps and the public are aligned.
The over has gotten 70% of the bets and 96% of the money so far, and we’ve also tracked two steams moves on the over at 230.5 and then again at 232. There’s been no buyback so far, which is why it sits at 234.5 after opening all the way down at 230.5.
Matt Moore: Lakers Are a Tough Matchup for Harden
The Lakers have been great vs. excellent offensive teams. L.A. is 12-7 ATS (63%) this season against teams with an offensive efficiency above 108.
The Rockets have a defensive efficiency above 110 since December 1. They had a brief stretch in November where they were defending, and then they fell apart again. They just don’t have the ability to make multiple rotations, and James Harden in the last 10 games has been as bad as he’s ever been.
The Rockets also don’t have a particularly good placeholder against LeBron James. PJ Tucker isn’t fast enough, and all the wings aren’t big enough. Anthony Davis isn’t as big an issue; Tucker is good vs. tall guys, and Davis struggles vs. guys with a lot of core strength. He may go for 40 just by hitting fadeaway jumpers, but you have to live with that possibility.
The Lakers are seventh in points allowed per game off catch-and-shoot jumpers and fourth in effective field goal percentage allowed on those shots. That’s the core of the Rockets offense. They have LeBron James, Danny Green, Avery Bradley and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to throw at Harden. Now, Harden can still cook because he’s James Harden, but making him work is the priority.
So you have an advantage with L.A.’s defense and a disadvantage for the Rockets defense. And you have Austin Rivers out, a subtle thing that won’t move the line but hurts the overall bench minutes.
The Lakers are also 4-2 ATS this season without Anthony Davis (questionable with a glute injury) and 2-0 as an underdog.
THE PICK: Lakers +2
Bryan Mears: How I’m Handicapping Tonight’s Game
This is a fascinating matchup, and it’s our first of the year between these two teams.
On one hand, there’s the math problem. The Rockets are once again far and away first in the NBA in 3-point rate, hoisting up those attempts on 44.6% of their possessions. The Lakers, meanwhile, are just 25th, shooting them just 31.4% of the time. That’s a massive discrepancy and gives the Rockets fairly large room for error.
The problem for the Rockets this year is that they just aren’t a good shooting team. James Harden is obviously James Harden and is hitting an impressive 37.3% of his 13.4 attempts per game from deep — impressive because so many of those are contested, unassisted attempts.
But outside of him, it’s feast-or-famine for this team. Eric Gordon is down at 33.6% this year, and Russell Westbrook is having a dreadful shooting year, hitting just 23.6% of his shots from deep. The role players — Ben McLemore, Danuel House and PJ Tucker — have all been fine, going at least 37.0% beyond the arc, but it’s hard to trust them night in and night out. As Moore wrote earlier today, that’s why it’s hard to trust them in the playoffs.
As a result, the Rockets are just 21st in the league in 3-point percentage. In past seasons, they’ve had a top offense because of the shot profile and shooting. They still have a top-three unit this year, but it’s also in part because of good turnover control and the fact that they get to the line so often.
The Lakers do let opponents get to the line, but they will test the Rockets with their defensive athleticism; L.A. ranks sixth in defensive turnover rate.
Outside of the math problem, the Lakers are just a tough matchup for the Rockets. Houston has really struggled this season to secure defensive rebounds, it’s the team’s worst defensive four factor so far. The Lakers, meanwhile, are fourth on the offensive glass and play three huge guys up front almost at all times.
Digging deeper, the Lakers, while they don’t take as many 3s as the Rockets, don’t have an inefficient shot profile by any means. They really attack the rim, shooting there 40.0% of the time, and they’re great at generating corner-3s. They’re actually seventh in the league in that regard, showing that they don’t avoid 3s altogether — just the bad ones.
That’s not great given the Rockets allow the second-most corner-3s in the league this year. Further, they’re 22nd in rim defense, allowing opponents to shoot 64.3% on such attempts. Their weaknesses defensively are exactly the Lakers’ strengths.
Of course, the Rockets are at home, and their extreme scheme can be so tough to handle in a regular season game as opposed to a playoff series where you can spend a ton of time scheming around them. That makes the Rockets just so difficult to handicap night-to-night; it really comes down to whether they hit their shots, and that’s one of the more random things to predict in basketball.
But given the Lakers’ strengths and the sharp action on the over (see above for more on that), I would lean those two ways.
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.