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Pelicans vs. Rockets Betting Picks, Odds & Predictions: How to Bet the Historically High Over/Under

Pelicans vs. Rockets Betting Picks, Odds & Predictions: How to Bet the Historically High Over/Under article feature image

Sean Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: Zion Williamson (1) of the New Orleans Pelicans.

Pelicans at Rockets Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions

  • Spread: Rockets -5
  • Over/Under: 246
  • Time: 2 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: ABC

Odds as of Sunday morning and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.

The Super Bowl is today, but the NBA is definitely trying to steal a bit of the spotlight in what could be a historic game in the betting world (more on that in the next section).

How should bettors treat this high over/under? Where’s the value on the spread? Below I give my thoughts and my favorite bet today.

Betting Trend to Know

This game’s over/under might close at the highest number in history. Two games in our Bet Labs database have closed at 245: Nets-Rockets in 2019 and Suns-Kings in 2009. No game has closed higher, and today’s Pels-Rockets matchup currently sits at 246 after opening at 245.

Historically in games with an over/under of 240 or higher, the under has gone 24-15 (61.5%), good for a 20.0% return on investment.

Bryan Mears: How I’m Betting Today’s Game

How you feel about this game I think should come down to how you feel about James Harden’s play over the last several weeks. Prior to Friday’s game, he had a 10-game stretch of 26.4 points per game, which doesn’t seem bad given his volume, but he posted shooting numbers of 32.9% overall and 22.5% from behind the arc.

On Friday against the Mavericks, who were missing Luka Doncic, he finally rebounded, putting up 35 points on a better 40.0%-42.9% outing. He grabbed 16 rebounds, dished out four assists, swiped four steals and turned it over just three times. The thigh contusion that had been bothering him looked better — at least for that game.

If he’s back healthy, then the Rockets are obviously a different team, especially offensively. They put up a 124.8 Offensive Rating against Dallas after sitting with a 112.0 mark (17th in the league) in January.

Still, there are some reasonable long-term questions about the Rockets. They have a defined scheme; everyone knows it at this point. They maximize efficiency, pushing the pace and eschewing mid-rangers for shots at the rim and 3-pointers. The problem is that this year they just haven’t had the shooters to capitalize on the scheme: They are 22nd in 3P% this season.

And over the last month, they’re just 26th in field goal percentage at the rim and 24th in 3P%. The scheme is good; the players and shooters have struggled.

And today’s game is interesting. Over the last month, the Pelicans have allowed the highest percentage of shots at the rim in the league but just the second-fewest 3-pointers. They’ve done a good job protecting the rim, ranking seventh in FG% allowed there, but that’s a dicey way to play, especially with Clint Capela out again in this one with a heel contusion.

On the other side, the Pelicans have really been playing solid basketball after a slow start to the season. Since Jan. 1, they are eighth in Net Rating, mostly because they’ve dominated offensively, putting up 117.8 points/100 (third in the league).

Most importantly, in the minutes with Zion Williamson, who just returned a couple weeks ago, the Pels have outscored opponents by a ridiculous 17.9 points/100. I’ve been cautious with that data, but the sample size is growing and the performance hasn’t dipped. Zion is probably just really darn good.

The key here is that the Pels with Zion in the starting lineup have allowed just 90.2 points/100 — an incredible defensive number. They’ve done an awesome job defending 3s, but that could regress. More encouraging is the rim protection with him and Derrick Favors on the floor, which has been incredible: That unit has allowed just 45.0% shooting in that area.

So what does all this mean for today’s game, which features perhaps the highest over/under in the history of the league?

Betting the under is admittedly scary: These teams are among the fastest in the league and should thrive in transition. Further, the offenses have been blistering hot, and the shot profiles have been very solid. Still, as mentioned above, it’s been wise to fade the public on these incredibly high totals historically. I likely won’t, but that’s probably the smarter side.

I think if you want to bet this game, the most +EV side currently is the Pelicans on the spread. The Rockets have been so boom-or-bust, and New Orleans has shown to be honestly an elite team with Zion on the floor. And importantly, Zion’s minutes have continued to creep up after starting around 20; we have him projected around 30 today.

I would lean toward the Pels +5 or better in this one, but my favorite way to get action on this game is in the cross-sport Super Bowl props market. I was on our Sirius XM radio show earlier this week, and I said I loved the prop of Zion’s points +4.5 vs. the 49ers-Chiefs first-half total (which is listed at 26.5 in the market currently). That’s available at PointsBet, by the way.

[Bet now at PointsBet. NJ only.]

That was at +110, but now it’s moved to -125. I still think there’s some value there, as I don’t think it’s currently reflecting Zion’s increased role and just how juicy this game is in terms of scoring — literally historically juicy. — Bryan Mears

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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