Rockets vs. Celtics Betting Odds Picks & Predictions: Will Houston Shine in Primetime Against Boston?
Tim Warner/Getty Images. Pictured: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket defended by James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets.
- The Rockets have been excellent in primetime games against top opponents this season. Will that continue vs. Boston?
- Our experts are looking at the total and highlighting the unique challenge Houston's offense poses to the Celtics
- See the full betting analysis below.
The Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets have two of the hottest scorers in the NBA going head-to-head in a Saturday primetime matchup.
Over their past five games, Jayson Tatum and James Harden are averaging 35.4 and 35.2 points, respectively, which puts them into the top three in the entire league over that span.
The Rockets will also enter TD Garden in Boston with a five-game winning streak that dates back to them embracing a small-ball lineup. Is Houston an underdog worth backing?
Our experts preview the angles of this matchup, including their picks below.
Rockets at Celtics Picks, Betting Odds & Predictions
- Spread: Celtics -1.5
- Over/Under: 232
- Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: ABC
Every week this NBA season, Wob is choosing a specific NBA battle to bet on. This week’s bet is about which game will feature the highest scorer: Celtics-Rockets or Lakers-Grizzlies.
You all chose to take the Celtics-Rockets side of the prop, and PointsBet has boosted the odds up even more on the Simmons side from -370 to -345.
this week’s @PointsBetUSA battle is BOS/HOU (-345) vs. LAL/MEM (+275): which game will have the HIGHEST SCORER?
here is what u guys decided i should take in the moment
Celts/Rox it is
payout odds were just boosted
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) February 29, 2020
Betting Trend to Know
The Rockets seem to thrive in games that pit them against the best teams in the Eastern conference.
Over the past two seasons, the Rockets are 12-4 against the spread when facing East teams with a win percentage at or above .600. This season, they are 5-1 ATS in that spot, which is easily the best record among Western conference teams.
Houston has won five consecutive games against East teams of that caliber dating back to November, with the most recent win coming against the Celtics earlier this month.
John Ewing: Follow the Line Movement
The Celtics-Rockets total opened 230.5 and has been bet up to 232. Sharp money is driving the line movement.
While only 56% of bets are on the over at the time of writing, those bets accounts for 87% of dollars wagered on the total. When there is a larger percentage of dollars than tickets this is an indication of professional action.
Historically, it has been profitable to follow such line movement.
Since 2015, when we began tracking dollar percentages, betting the overs that match this system have gone 341-270-7 (56%). A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $5,338.
Sharps don’t always win but being on the same side as the pros is a profitable long term strategy.
The PICK: Over 232
Moore: Houston Targets Boston’s Defensive Weaknesses
So the thought process with teams that play small is often to attack them with bigs. I laid out why that’s not necessarily true based on how few players in the league can do so earlier this week with Wob.
However, in this one, both teams are essential playing small-ball lineups — Daniel Theis is 6-foot-8, PJ Tucker is 6-foot-5. Theis plays more of a traditional role offensively, but he’s still mostly trying to stay out of the lane to allow for space.
Defensively, this means that the Celtics can keep an eye on Tucker with Theis able to guard against the corner 3. This, however, is an issue in reality, because it means that he’s not in the lane to help. Watch what happens when Theis stays attached to shooters:
The Celtics have high-level defenders, but those defenders also got torched one-on-one in their previous matchup before the All-Star break:
Marcus Smart, world-class defender? Totally helpless:
That last play is particularly relevant because it’s off a made bucket. Before the trade to go 5-out, Houston was the league’s second-best team at scoring off opponent’s made buckets, averaging 114 points per 100 possessions. Since the trade, they’re somehow up to 117, an astronomical figure.
The Rockets are running the ball right down opponents’ throats when they think they’re set, and they constantly caught the C’s off guard with that.
Boston has a top-10 defense after a made bucket, and Houston’s ability to challenge that matters. There are certainly adjustments that the Celtics will make and it’s likely that they will simply defend better and get more calls at home.
I don’t like the spread here. But because the Rockets are able to absolutely expose Enes Kanter any minute he steps on the floor, I think there will be points tonight. The total is high at 232. But I still think both of these teams will have a hard time slowing the other down.
The PICK: OVER 232
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.