Spurs vs. Rockets Odds & Picks: San Antonio’s Team Total Provides Value (Thursday, Jan. 14)
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: DaMarcus Cousins
- The James Harden Era is over in Houston and that will completely change the way that bettors should approach handicapping Rockets' games.
- Austin Wang preaches patience with Houston, but thinks that San Antonio's team total has value on Thursday night.
- Check out Wang's full betting preview for Rockets vs. Spurs below.
Rockets vs. Spurs Odds
|Rockets Odds||+7 [BET NOW]|
|Spurs Odds||-7 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+225/ -275 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||222.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds as of Thursday morning and via FanDuel.|
On Wednesday afternoon, the James Harden era came to a disappointing end in Houston. The disengaged superstar forced an ugly exit after failing to show up for training camp, visibly quitting on his teammates and throwing them under the bus after the most recent loss against the Los Angeles Lakers, citing the “this team isn’t good enough”.
Rather than let the drama fester, the Houston Rockets sent the former MVP to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster deal that netted them four future first round picks, four rights to future pick swaps and speedy defender Victor Oladipo.
On Thursday evening, the San Antonio Spurs host the Houston Rockets in the first leg of a two-game series between these two teams in San Antonio.
During the Rockets’ second championship run in 1995, the No. 6 seed Rockets upset and eliminated the top-seed Spurs from the Western Conference Finals in six games. Hakeem Olajuwon dominated league MVP David Robinson in that series, after reportedly feeling snubbed for the award.
The Spurs went on to become a dynasty with five championship titles to show for it, but these in-state rivals did not meet again in the playoffs until 2017. This time, the Spurs reigned victory in the Western Conference Semifinals. In Game 5, Manu Ginobili had the infamous, clutch block from behind on James Harden’s shot attempt to send the game to double overtime. That loss was too demoralizing for the Rockets to bounce back from and the Spurs used that momentum to deliver the final blow in a Game 6 39-point victory in Houston.
Even though these teams are no longer powerhouses, it is always a fun rivalry game to watch as many fans make the three-hour road trip to support their team on the road. However, with Harden gone and John Wall declared out, this matchup does not have its usual luster.
I’m not sure what to expect of the Rockets. Part of me thinks they come out energized and motivated after Harden’s comments, but with Wall out and Oladipo unlikely to suit up, it’s hard for bettors to trust Houston.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t value on this game, however.
The playoffs are likely not on the horizon for the Rockets this season. Houston has started the season 3-6 and has lost its last two games, both against the defending champion Lakers, by a combined margin of 35 points.
The Rockets have been a tough team to handicap this season with a new coach and several new players being worked into the mix. They have yet to build any chemistry and it is hard to get a grasp what their full potential will be. With Harden now out of the picture, I think we should finally be able to see some consistency and determine their true identity.
Center Christian Wood, who was acquired in free agency, has come in and made an immediate impact. The versatile, mobile big man can do many things well like run the pick-and-roll and stretch the floor. Wood now leads the Rockets in Player Efficiency Rating (22.6) out of all rotation players (per NBA.com).
With Wall and Oladipo in the backcourt, I expect the pace will increase and their knack for stealing the ball will lead to more fast-break points. Rockets’ coach Stephen Silas has expressed a desire to become less predictable on offense, preaching more ball movement in contrast to the isolation-heavy offense of the Mike D’Antoni regime.
Neither Wall or Oladipo will play against the Spurs, but with Harden’s absence, I still anticipate fewer isolation plays for the Rockets and expect them to play at a higher tempo.
Houston’s defense has also been below par, allowing the ninth-most points to opponents (113.2) through Wednesday’s games. Not only that, but the Rockets will be short-handed on Thursday and that will lead to fatigue and a drop in effectiveness on defense.
It is worth monitoring the injury news in Houston as Eric Gordon is listed as questionable for Thursday with a leg injury. Keep track of his status with our Bet Labs Insiders tool, as he will be playing point guard with Wall and Oladipo out.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are back home after wrapping up a five-game road trip where they went an impressive 4-1 and notched wins against the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.
While the Rockets are still finding their footing and getting things figured out, the Spurs have consistency and a system that has made them successful for many seasons. Head coach Gregg Popovich and his staff continue to get production out of their draft picks and unheralded players and develop them into impactful players.
Players like Lonnie Walker IV, Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson are all late first-round draft picks that have blossomed into solid players. They help provide a solid supporting cast to veteran centerpieces DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. Patty Mills has been on fire to start the season, coming off the bench for instant offense and is shooting 47.3% from behind the arc.
The Spurs protect the ball and average the fewest turnovers in the league. They only coughed the ball up four times against the Thunder in their last game. Per NBA.com Advanced Stats, they are No. 1 in Assist-to-Turnover Ratio (2.51) through Tuesday’s games. That is one of my favorite metrics to analyze that correlate with betting totals that go over.
The play up-tempo, ranking 11th in Pace (101.63) through Tuesday’s games. With their efficiency and speed, I expect them to put pressure on a Rockets team that is only 22nd in Defensive Rating.
DeMar DeRozan is listed as questionable for Thursday for personal reasons. Keep track of his status with our Bet Labs Insiders tool, as he leads the Spurs in scoring.
With the current state of the Rockets, it is difficult to count on them to cover a spread. With Harden gone, I anticipate fewer isolation plays for the Rockets and expect them to play at a faster pace. However, without a true point guard like John Wall that can score and direct traffic, I’m not sure they can put up enough points to hold up their end of the bargain to play the over.
However, given the Spurs’ pace and offensive efficiency, I like the Spurs to have an easy time scoring against a short-handed Rockets team.
The Spurs are 7-3 to the over on team totals this season, per the Sports Data Query Language database.
The Rockets have allowed their opponents to go 6-2-1 to the over on team totals this season, per the SDQL database.
Pick: San Antonio Spurs Team Total Over 114.5 (up to 115.5)