Friday’s NBA Expert Picks & Predictions: How Our Staff is Betting Rockets vs. Clippers

Friday’s NBA Expert Picks & Predictions: How Our Staff is Betting Rockets vs. Clippers article feature image
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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2).

The last time the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets met, James Harden exploded for 47 points in a Rockets win. This time around, the Clippers should have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the lineup.

That’s just one of the matchups our experts are eyeing on a loaded Friday schedule in the NBA:

  • 7 p.m. ET: Charlotte Hornets at Washington Wizards 
  • 8 p.m. ET: Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls 
  • 10:30 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets at LA Clippers 

See how they are betting the slate below.

Odds as of Friday at 3 p.m. ET

Matt Moore: Hornets at Wizards

  • Spread: Wizards -6
  • Over/Under: 234.5
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET

The bet percentage and money percentages are flipped on this, and the sharp money is hitting the Hornets, which makes me nervous. But the Wizards have been the league’s second-best team against the spread this season (8-3-1).

The Hornets give up the fifth-most points to forwards per 100 possessions in the league, and the 11th-most to centers.

Thomas Bryant should feast, and the Wizards’ ability to score at will should outpace the Hornets. Charlotte’s win profile suggests they can hang with good offenses, but not great ones. At home, I’m trusting the Wizards.

The PICK: Wizards -6
[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Brandon Anderson: Hornets at Wizards

P.J. Washington is having a monster start to his rookie season, with 27 points in his debut and another 23-point game the following week, but he has slowed down since then. His playing time has dropped from 33.7 minutes per game to 25.0 since Nov. 5, and he’s scoring just 10.0 points a game during that stretch.

And the trend is still moving in the wrong direction.

Washington has played fewer than 20 minutes in three of his past five games and scored exactly five points in three of them as well. He suffered a leg contusion in early November and looks like he’s still shaking that injury off.

Our Player Props tool suggests this is a good time to fade Washington. It rates this prop a 10 and also loves Washington under 5.5 rebounds. Washington has scored 11 points or fewer in 66.7% of his games. Take advantage of inflated public perception and fade Washington.

The PICK: Washington under 10.5 points 
[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Bryan Mears: Heat at Bulls

  • Spread: Heat -4.5
  • Over/Under: 216.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

Yes, I’m wagering cash on a Bulls game today. Yes, I’m terrified.

These teams have some pretty extreme stats both on offense and defense. Cleaning the Glass (and pbpstats.com) have models that estimate what offenses and defenses should shoot based on shot location and other factors, which we can then compare to actual numbers to tease out luck.

Let’s start with defense.

  • Bulls: 52.3% eFG% allowed (17th), 54.5% expected eFG% allowed (30th)
  • Heat: 50.1% eFG% allowed (8th), 52.9% expected eFG% allowed (24th)

Miami has been so incredibly lucky so far, perhaps more than any other team this season, and its defense should regress as shooting normalizes. The same can be said for the Bulls, though, who have an expected eFG% literally last in the entire league. They’ve been league average so far this year, but this looks like one of the worst defenses in the league in the long-term.

Now let’s talk about offense.

  • Bulls: 49.7% eFG% (27th), 53.8% expected eFG% (2nd)
  • Heat: 56.3% eFG% (1st), 52.6% expected eFG% (13th)

I mean, come on. These numbers are almost laughable. These teams shooting-wise are polar opposites, with the Heat the best shooting team in the league and the Bulls as one of the worst. But given shot location and other factors, the Bulls should actually be better! Basketball is weird.

Anyway, looking at tonight’s game, if the Bulls are expected to be better on offense over the long run and both teams should see sizable regression on defense, that’s pointing to the over at a pretty low number. Further, Chicago has played at the fourth-fastest pace this season.

I don’t love that Otto Porter is out for the Bulls; he’s consistently had strong on/off numbers for their offense. Still, I grabbed over 217 since I thought it would move. If you’re worried about the Porter dynamic, you could always wait and see how the Bulls offense looks and then live bet the over early.

The PICK: Heat-Bulls over 217 (I wouldn’t bet past the number)
[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Wob: Rockets at Clippers

  • Spread: Clippers -5
  • Over/Under: 227
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

Russell Westbrook and James Harden not only have to deal with their arch nemesis Patrick Beverley, but now the firepower of the Clippers’ fully armed and operational battle station.

Honestly, this all comes down to whether Harden gets all the calls down the stretch or only some. If it’s only some, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are going to ether this banged up roster back to the stone age and I would bet this thing all the way up to -10.

The Rockets are crazy thin, and the Clippers have proved that if a game is going to be played with playoff intensity, they will turn that contest into a war of attrition. Expect that tonight.

Simply too many good players on the home side to rely on one of those “WTF HARDEN” games.

The PICK: Clippers -5
[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]