Rockets-Lakers Betting Preview: Will Harden and Co. Complete the Sweep?

Rockets-Lakers Betting Preview: Will Harden and Co. Complete the Sweep? article feature image

Photo credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: James Harden

Betting Odds: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers

  • Spread: Rockets -3
  • Over/Under: 232.5
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: TNT

>> All odds as of 3 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets

The Lakers and Rockets are both having disappointing seasons relative to expectations. Can they get things going in this stretch run toward the playoffs? Our analysts dive into tonight’s matchup.

Betting Trends to Know

Since the beginning of last season, James Harden has faced the Los Angeles Lakers a total of seven times. In those games, the Rockets are 6-1 straight up (SU) but only 3-4 against the spread (ATS). The lowest spread for the Rockets in those seven games was 3.5 points, which was their first meeting of the season — a Houston road cover in Los Angeles.

In those seven games, Harden is averaging 40.3 PPG, including four 40-plus point games and two 50-point games, all while shooting more than 50% from the field. It is safe to say we may be in for an all-time Harden night in LA. — Evan Abrams

The Lakers have played 28 total home games this season. They are 20-7-1 (74.1%) to the under, going under the total by 5.2 points per game. The Lakers are the second-most profitable home team to the under this season, behind just the Pacers.

Last season, the Cavaliers with LeBron James were 21-18-2 (53.8%) to the under at home, but their average over/under was 219.6. This season, the Lakers’ average over/under in their 28 home games is 226.9, a difference of 7.3 points from last season for James’ team. — Abrams

In the past five seasons, LeBron has been an underdog in the regular season 51 times. His teams have gone 27-24 SU and 32-19 ATS when getting points. The Rockets haven’t been great bets on the road this season, going 10-18 ATS. — John Ewing

Moore: Why I’m Leaning Toward the Rockets

Tyson Chandler is available to play for the Lakers, but Mike Muscala was downgraded to out. JaVale McGee’s impact has slowly slid over the course of the year and the Rockets just got Clint Capela back.

The Lakers are 30th in defensive efficiency in the month of February, and you’re not going to win a shootout with Houston, especially when you don’t have any shooters.

This is a huge game for both teams. Everyone is waiting for LeBron to come out gunning at full speed, but we haven’t seen full-speed LeBron in a regular-season game in years.

The Rockets need this or they’ll have lost three of four. They won’t have Iman Shumpert. This is a battle of Houston’s terrible defense vs. LA’s mediocre offense and LA’s terrible defense vs. Houston’s prolific offense. As such, Rockets -3 is pretty tempting. — Matt Moore

Mears: Finding Value on the Over/Under

Here’s how the previous three meetings went this year:

  • 10/20 in LA: Rockets by 9, total of 239 points
  • 12/13 in Houston: Rockets by 15, total of 237 points
  • 1/19 in Houston: Rockets by 4, total of 272 points

And tonight’s over/under sits at 232.5 and is moving down?

There is the narrative of teams underperforming after the All-Star break, but it’s actually been mostly the defenses that have struggled. As John Ewing mentioned in his piece here, in the first two days after the All-Star break, overs have hit at a 55.1% rate historically.

Trends-wise for these specific teams, it’s a mixed bag: The Lakers have hit the under in 20 of 28 home games this year, but the Rockets tend to hit the over when they’re listed as favorites, as they are tonight.

Data-wise, these are atrocious defenses of late: Over the last month, the Lakers rank 30th in Defensive Rating; the Rockets sit 24th. Further, they’re both bottom-10 in transition defense, and the Lakers like to push the tempo, sitting third in the league in pace.

You could make the argument that the Rockets just haven’t had their best players together this season and finally do. That’s true, but that fivesome hasn’t been any good together, to be honest: The combination of Chris Paul-James Harden-Eric Gordon-P.J. Tucker-Clint Capela has been outscored by 8.2 points per 100 possessions.

That’s in the 19th percentile of lineups this year, and that unit has allowed an atrocious 121.4 points/100 defensively — the 11th percentile of lineups. Even with these teams getting healthier, I’m not sure defense will be a focal point of this matchup. Perhaps it’s fishy, but I’ll take the over. — 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.