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Rockets vs. Pelicans NBA Odds & Picks: The Size Advantage Places Value on New Orleans

Rockets vs. Pelicans NBA Odds & Picks: The Size Advantage Places Value on New Orleans article feature image

Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images. Pictured: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans controls the ball against P.J. Tucker #17 of the Houston Rockets.

  • The Rockets look to bounce back from a loss on Monday night as they travel to take on the Pelicans.
  • Houston is expected to get John Wall and Eric Gordon back, although New Orleans' size will presented an issue with Christian Wood out.
  • Kenny Ducey breaks down why he sees value on the Pelicans as home favorites.

Rockets vs. Pelicans Odds

Rockets Odds +5.5
Pelicans Odds -5.5
Moneyline +185 / -225
Over/Under 222.5 
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Tuesday morning and via BetMGM

On the second night of a back-to-back, the Houston Rockets will be hoping that their offense can muster up a bit more than it did in Monday night’s loss to the Charlotte Hornets in which it totaled just seven points in the final quarter.

Things are sure to get a bit better with John Wall and Eric Gordon likely back in the fold, but with the loss of Christian Wood still looming large, can Houston overcome the obstacles to snap out of its funk?

Let’s take a look at the numbers and see just how big the loss of Wood is, and whether or not that opens up an edge on the other side of this matchup.

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Houston Rockets

The Rockets have been preparing for this game, sitting Wall (injury management) and Gordon (rest) on the first night of a back-to-back Monday. The result? Well, it wasn’t pretty; Houston was very much in its game against Charlotte, trailing by just three heading into the fourth, until disaster struck in the form of a seven-point quarter.

Victor Oladipo and David Nwaba both tried to power the Rockets offense, but combined hit just one of 10 shots. As a team, they shot 2-of-19 from the field, and 2-of-12 from 3-point range, while also getting out-rebounded 19-5.

While it’s safe to assume a quarter like that wouldn’t happen if the Rockets weren’t to relying so much on role players to score in late situations — an area where Wall and Gordon are more suited to help — the rebounding discrepancy is a very real concern for the Rockets.

Houston will once again be without starting center Christian Wood, the anchor of the team, who is week-to-week with an ankle injury, meaning it’s all up to DeMarcus Cousins and small-ball five P.J. Tucker to pick up the slack down low.

The paint is where my biggest concern lies for the Rockets. Since losing Wood two games ago, the Rockets have grabbed just 45.6% of available rebounds, the second-worst mark in the NBA. While they haven’t exactly been known as a great rebounding team (they have been bottom-five in Rebounding Rates this season) this is still nearly a 3% decrease.

It doesn’t stop there. For the season, Houston owns the eighth-best field goal percentage allowed in the paint at 40.6%, but that number has risen to a very poor 46.4% over the last two games. The sample size is small, but this is a testament to how important Wood truly is to this Rockets team. They should feel his absence in particular on Tuesday night.

New Orleans Pelicans

The off-season acquisition of Steven Adams wasn’t the splashiest, but it could go down as one of the better signings of the summer. The longtime Thunder big man has brought tenacious defense and rebounding to the Pelicans’ frontcourt, pushing them to the top of the league in both departments. Against the Rockets, the Pelicans should enjoy a clear edge down low.

New Orleans currently sits seventh in the NBA with a 40.1% field goal percentage allowed in the paint and they have they third-best rebounding rate, grabbing 52.3% of available boards. If thats not enough, the offense has scored 13.3 more points per 100 possessions with Adams on the floor this season, further pointing to how vital he is to how the Pelicans play.

The return Wall will test the Lonzo Ball’s defense, but on the other side, Zion Williamson has combined with Brandon Ingram lately to create a lethal offensive duo for New Orleans. The battle in the paint doesn’t tell the whole story for the Pelicans. On this occasion, however, it should be the matchup most worth watching.

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Rockets-Pelicans Pick

It’s a shame that Wood won’t be able to suit up for this one, because we could have had some real battles in the paint between he and Adams, which only a niche audience would have enjoyed. Still, this would be as close to a toss up as you can get, with a slight edge even going to Houston.

The fact remains, however, that the Rockets are incredibly weak without Wood, and the Pelicans possess one of the most suffocating rebounding units in basketball, combined with stout defense.

Not only has Adams been a big factor on offense, you will now have to compete with the driving Williamson down low, where you are already weak, and an adjustment to contain the paint will put the ball into the hands of the red-hot Ingram.

Any way you look at this, there’s trouble for the Rockets. This reeks of a bounce-back spot for Houston when you consider the miserable fourth quarter and the return of Wall, but too many things are working against them.

Houston has covered in just one of its past four games, while the Pelicans are on a three-game against-the-spread winning streak. Both teams will continue to head in opposite directions. I grabbed the Pels at -4, but I like them at -5.5 and up -6, which is where most of the market has moved them.

Pick: Pelicans -5.5

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