Pistons vs. Rockets Betting Odds, Pick, Prediction: Continue Fading Sluggish Offenses
Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons.
- Updated Rockets vs. Pistons odds list Houston as a 3-point favorite, but the total has been the real mover over the last few hours, falling from 210 to 206 as both offenses look to find their stride.
- This matchup will be live on ESPN and feature 2021 NBA Draft No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham against No. 2 pick Jalen Green.
- Get Malik Smith's full Rockets vs. Pistons breakdown below.
Pistons vs. Rockets Odds
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Cunningham, the No. 1 overall pick, has missed five the Pistons’ first nine games as he recovered from an ankle injury and is looking to snap their four-game losing streak . No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green and the Rockets have lost eight in a row and return home after a lengthy trip on the West Coast.
So, who has the edge in a matchup of two struggling and inexperienced teams? Let’s break down both sides.
The Pistons Offense Clearly Isn’t Working
The Pistons, like many teams that had the No. 1 pick in the previous season, have a lot of holes, but let’s focus on the offense. The Pistons rank last in Offensive Rating (96.5) and Effective Field Goal Percentage (45%) per NBA Advanced Stats. They attempt 35.7 3-point attempts per game, which is square in the middle of the pack, but rank last in 3-point percentage (27.7%).
Things aren’t much better inside either. The Pistons attempt the fifth-most shots per game in the restricted area (29.1), but are shooting just 59.9% on those attempts, which is the fifth-worst rate in the NBA.
What’s interesting here is that Detroit isn’t playing a bunch of iso-ball and putting up terrible attempts. Per NBA tracking data, they lead the league in total passes made per game, but those passes have led to just 20.6 assists per game, which ranks 26th in the league. They also get a lot of open looks outside of 10 feet — about 40 per game — but don’t convert on those plays.
The Pistons’ main issue is that they don’t make things easy on themselves. They play at a slow Pace (98.6 possessions) and are last in fast break points per game and field goal attempts in transition. About 21% of their attempts come late in the shot clock (seven seconds or fewer left), which would be fine if they had tough shot makers, but they don’t.
Their best player and leading scorer, Jerami Grant, is averaging 16.6 points per game and shooting 38% from the floor after scoring 22.3 per game last season on 42% shooting. Cunningham has also struggled out of the gate — 4-of-28 on 3s — but can’t be expected to carry any sort of load offensively this early in his career.
If head coach Dwane Casey decided to push the pace even a little, it could potentially help this team get easier looks in the open floor, but for now it seems like Detroit is destined to struggle on offense.
Rockets Needs Control, Consistency on Offense
The Rockets are quite the antithesis of the Pistons when it comes to Pace — they lead the NBA with 103.6 possessions per game. Unfortunately, that fast pace hasn’t meant much as far as scoring efficiency. The Rockets rank 28th in Offensive Rating (100.2) per NBA Advanced Stats, just two spots ahead of the Pistons.
The Rockets are a young team and it shows in their lack of discipline. They average 19.8 turnovers per game and 11.3 of those are steals, which is why they allow a league-high 20.3 fast break points per game. Limiting those turnovers and easy buckets on the other end will be key to snapping their losing streak.
Defensively, the Rockets offer little to no resistance at the rim with two undersized bigs down low — Daniel Theis and Christian Wood. They allow opponents to shoot 67.6% in the restricted area, which is the seventh-highest rate in the league and they contest the second-fewest 2-point shots per game (25.2).
One thing the Rockets have done consistently, is compete early in games. According to Bet Labs, they are 6-3-1 (66.7%) against the spread in the first half this season and have held halftime leads over the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets (on the road no less) during their losing streak.
If they jump out to a lead against the Pistons, it will be interesting to see if they can hold it.
This is a game that only a bettor could love — and even that’s a stretch. Both teams are riding losing streaks. Both are inefficient and inexperienced.
Over the past five seasons with two teams in this situation — both on losing streaks with a win percentage below 30% and the spread within 3.5 points — the favorite has been 22-16-1 (57.9%), according to Bet Labs. The Rockets actually opened as -1.5 favorites before the spread moved early on Wednesday, which means bettors are backing the Rockets at home.
I’d rather not bet on either side of this matchup and instead will look to play the total. So far this season unders are hitting at 61.8% and we have two of the worst offenses in the league facing off.
They can’t hit open shots and definitely can’t hit the tough ones right now. The Rockets seem like a team that should score a bunch because they lead the NBA in Pace, but they don’t. The under in their games is 13-6 combined so far and I’m not convinced that either offense will get right in this matchup.
Even at 210.5, I think there’s value on the under in this game. I’ll keep riding this trend until we see a legitimate shift.
Pick: Under 210.5