Rockets vs. Pistons Odds & Picks: Detroit Should Cover Against Shorthanded Houston (January 22)
Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Detroit’s Jerami Grant.
- The Rockets head to Detroit shorthanded with newfound star Christian Wood sitting out.
- Detroit's Jerami Grant is an emerging star and looks to extend his streak of 20-point games.
- Roberto Arguello previews the matchup with analysis and his prediction.
Rockets vs. Pistons Odds
|Moneyline||+124 / -146|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
The Rockets face the Pistons Friday night in Detroit in a game that features two of the early front-runners for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award.
After the Pistons let Christian Wood leave town as a free agent, he signed with the Rockets and has gone from averaging 13.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks in 21.4 minutes per game last year to 23.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in 33.6 minutes per game this year.
Unfortunately for basketball fans, Wood has been ruled out with an ankle injury, but Victor Oladipo will play in his third games for the Rockets after being acquired in the James Harden trade.
While the Pistons made a mistake by letting Wood walk, they made a great decision to bring in Jerami Grant from the Nuggets. Grant had the choice between returning to the Nuggets or going to the Pistons for the same amount of money and chose the Pistons because he wanted the opportunity to play a bigger role.
Grant scored a career-high 32 points in Wednesday’s overtime loss to the Hawks, and you can expect him to stay hot against the Rockets as he has scored 20-plus points in a league-leading 13 straight games.
For the Rockets to win or cover, they will need Victor Oladipo and Eric Gordon to shoot accurately from the three-point line. With John Wall (knee), Danuel House Jr. (COVID-19 protocols), and Wood all out, Oladipo and Gordon will both have high usage on Friday.
Even with Wood healthy in the last two games (the only two in which Oladipo has played for the Rockets), Oladipo averaged 22.5 shot attempts per game and Gordon averaged 18.5 attempts with Wall out. They will need to be more efficient and shoot about 40% from behind the arc or better to give the shorthanded Rockets a chance with their defensive shortcomings.
The Rockets’ defense will take a step back with Wood out because DeMarcus Cousins is the only other center on the roster.
The Rockets will have to choose between playing small or using Cousins at the five even though he doesn’t offer the same versatility or shot-blocking ability that Wood does. This is a particularly difficult matchup for an undersized team like the Rockets as Mason Plumlee can score or pass in the post to take advantage of mismatches.
Furthermore, rookie center Isaiah Stewart is already one of the stronger players in the league and ranks in the 97th percentile among bigs in offensive rebounding rate (16.0%) per Cleaning The Glass.
The Pistons will need another big game from Grant if they hope to win and cover as short favorites. Grant’s bet on himself has paid off so far as he has gotten more efficient (his Player Efficiency Rating has gone from 14.46 to a career-high 21.69) while also having a much higher usage rating (increasing from 16.1% to 24.1%).
Even more impressively, Grant has improved his rate stats while ranking in the 91st percentile in turnover rate (6.2%) among forwards, per Cleaning The Glass.
Grant is well-suited to take advantage of the Rockets’ weak rim protection as he is taking 38% of his shot attempts at the rim (84th percentile among forwards) and making 67% of those attempts. Grant is also shooting 38% from beyond the three-point line, so the Rockets will have to pick their poison against him.
The Pistons will also need to take advantage of the Rockets’ weak three-point defense as Houston is 29th in opponent three-point shooting percentage at 39.7%. Look for Wayne Ellington to capitalize on this as he leads the Pistons by shooting 46.2% from beyond the arc and ranks in the 95th percentile among wings in points per shot attempt.
Expect the Pistons to win and cover at home behind the surging Grant. The Rockets haven’t had much time to develop continuity because of a myriad of injuries and new faces in different roles after the Harden trade, and they will likely need to shoot at a high rate from the three-point line to overcome these issues on both sides of the ball.
The Pistons are well-positioned to take advantage of the Rockets’ defensive weakness on the interior without Wood, and they have the shooters with Ellington and Grant to make the Rockets pay when left open on the perimeter. Take the Pistons to cover at -3 on FanDuel with value up to -5.5.
Pick: Pistons -3 (bet down to -5.5)