Nets vs. Rockets Odds & Picks: How To Bet James Harden’s Return To Houston This Wednesday

Nets vs. Rockets Odds & Picks: How To Bet James Harden’s Return To Houston This Wednesday article feature image

Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden

  • James Harden makes his return to Houston as the Brooklyn Nets take on the Rockets this Wednesday night.
  • Despite winning nine of 10 and going up against a team that has lost 12 in a row, the Nets are only 6.5-point favorites against the Rockets.
  • Is this spread too low? NBA betting analyst Austin Wang thinks so. Find his preview and pick below.

Nets vs. Rockets Odds

Nets Odds-6.5 
Rockets Odds+6.5 
Moneyline-250 / +205 
Time7:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of 11:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday and via DraftKings.

The Brooklyn Nets have been hot as of late, winning (and covering) eight of their last nine games. On the other hand, the Houston Rockets are in a free fall and will look to pull the upset and halt a 12-game losing streak.

I doubt many people are voluntarily watching Rockets games these days, including myself, a die-hard Rockets fan. However, Wednesday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets will be "must-see TV" on ESPN as the Rockets host the Nets in James Harden’s first game versus Houston since being traded in January.

I can definitely see the Rockets coming out strong, but much like they have in the past several games, struggle to keep the momentum going as the game wears on. I see value on the Nets in the full game, but the game script I project sets up for a potential live-betting opportunity or a 2H bet on the Nets.

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets have won eight of their last nine games and only trail the Philadelphia 76ers by a half-game heading into the All-Star Break. The Nets are rolling without Kevin Durant in the lineup, which should really be sending some chills down their opponents' spines.

Since joining the Nets, the amazing Harden is averaging 25.3 points, a league-leading 11.3 assists and 8.5 rebounds, while shooting 49% from the field  and 41.9% from 3-point range.

Their role-players have stepped up, particularly Bruce Brown, who has averaged 18.6 points per game over the last five games and really taking advantage of the attention that Harden and Kyrie Irving are drawing. He's been doing most of his damage at the rim and Rockets have no rim protectors, so expect Brown to continue his strong play.

The Nets have been incredibly efficient with the ball, limiting their turnovers and moving the ball well. During this nine-game stretch, they are ranked 2nd in the league in Assist-to-Turnover Ratio (2.47), per NBA Advanced Stats, despite the carelessness of the turnover-prone Harden.

In general, the Nets offense should continue to succeed against the struggling Rockets defense; however, P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon have played with Harden for years and will know his tendencies and can find ways to disrupt them.

In their previous game against the Spurs, the Nets pulled through in overtime after blowing a 10-point lead in the closing minutes. They easily outscored the Spurs, 16-5, in overtime en route to a 124-113 victory.

Since the 2016-2017 season, favorites on the road off an overtime win are 30-16 (65.2%) against the spread, per the Sports Data Query Language database. This is active on the Nets as the market usually overrates the impact of the fatigue from being on the road and coming off an overtime game. These teams show that they come and take care of business.

Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden #13 and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets.

Houston Rockets

There are not many positives to speak of in Houston. Ever since losing Christian Wood to an ankle injury, the Rockets have lost twelve straight games by an average margin of 17.67 points. After the Harden trade, things were actually looking decent in Houston as the Rockets went 9-3 up until the Wood injury. They have missed their talented big man immensely. Wood leads the team in PER (24.2) and Value Over Replacement Player (0.8), per Basketball Reference. Until he returns, it is incredibly tough to back the Rockets.

Not only is Wood missing, Victor Oladipo has also missed six of the last 12 games as he has been battling injuries of his own. Eric Gordon has missed three of the last 12 games and is listed as questionable for Wednesday's game. Keep your eye on their status for Wednesday evening.

Although my guess is that they will likely play in Harden's homecoming, my concern is that their sporadic games they've missed has not allowed the Rockets to develop any chemistry and cohesiveness, which will really hurt them against a team like the Nets.

The Rockets are dead last in Offensive Rating (96.2) this season, per NBA Advanced Stats. Their defense was strong to start off the season, but in the last 12 games that Wood has been out, they are 24th in the league in Defensive Rating. They hoist 3-pointers at the second-highest rate in the league, but they are dead-last in 3-point percentage. They've also been dead-last in rebounding, as well.

Since the 2017-2018 season, home underdogs (of 4 points or more) in a game after they had a back-to-back have gone 56-108-4 (34.1%) ATS, per the SDQL database. This is active as a fade against the Rockets. Teams in this situation are fatigued off  back-to-back games and their fatigue tends to show the following game, especially if they are relaxed at home.

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Nets-Rockets Pick

The spread has opened up at Nets -6.5, which almost seems like a gift. I know many will be tempted to back the Rockets in a revenge angle against the former MVP, but the talent gap is just too wide between the two teams.

With that said, there is some bad blood between the current Rockets players and Harden. When Harden left, he dragged his Rockets teammates under the bus and stated that this team "simply isn't good enough." While they haven't done much to prove his comments wrong, I expect them to bring extra energy and effort to start this game. I can see the Rockets surprising viewers with a competitive game in the first half.

However, with the Rockets' lack of depth and size, I expect the Nets will pull away in the second half. Rockets have gone 1-11 ATS on 2H lines in the last 12 games, per our Bet Labs tool. On the other hand, Nets have covered eight of their last nine second-half spreads.

While I fully endorse backing the Nets to cover the full-game spread, I think taking a look at the Nets 2H if it is still a competitive game or live-betting Brooklyn if the Rockets get off to a fast start could be a better way to get some value.

Pick: Nets -6.5 (up to Nets -9)

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