GAMBLING GUIDE

Dropping NBA dimes: When betting on the Rockets, pace is key

James Harden, Chris Paul and the Rockets have slowed down the pace. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The NBA playoff race is getting intense, and teams are making their late-season pushes for supremacy. One group that continues to impress is the hometown Houston Rockets. The No. 1 seed, currently on a 13-game win streak is what we are observing, but more so based on how have they fared in Vegas. With the home team playing unimaginable basketball this season, gamblers must pick spots to take advantage of; let's dive into some numbers.

Houston holds the best overall record in the league sitting at 47-13. When playing in the Toyota Center, they are 24-6; on the road 23-7. The Rockets have benefited from win streaks all throughout the year, where coming off a victory they are 39-7 (84.8%). Houston has the most stringent strength of schedule in the Western Conference the remainder of the regular season so keeping pace with the Warriors while trying to stay fresh will be a burden the team has to deal with.  How have the Rockets played off rest?

Straight up
0 Days 7-3
1  Day 30-7
2-3 Days 9-3
4+ Days 1-0

ATS
0 Days 3-6
1  Day 21-16-1
2-3 Days 6-6
4+ Days 1-0

The Rockets have had plenty of fortune in games with one-day rest, and they will need to continue it down the stretch where the rest of the schedule breaks down to:

Rest

0 Days- 8 games
1  Day- 9 games
2-3 Days- 5 games
4+ Days 0

Houston is 31-28-1 ATS this season but surprisingly have struggled to cover at home where they have a 12-17-1 record and only cash 41.4% of the time. As visitors, they have been much better and sit at 19-11 ATS.

Much of the inability to cover at home has to do with the spreads being set incredibly high this year. The books have caught on, have you?

When lines are set too high, discipline is an attribute a successful gambler must possess. Luckily for us that live in the gambling universe, we have other angles we can shoot at, finding the best value doesn't always have to be in the game spread.

Totals

The Rockets offense has been incredible thus far where they have been lighting up the scoreboard. Unfortunately, betting overs in their games isn't as simple as the team makes it look. Again, the books tend to catch up and adjust accordingly. If you don't watch the games and just look at the final scores, you observe a lot of high team totals for the Rockets.

Houston averages 114 points per game this year, and much has to do with the pace the team has played at the majority of the year. We say majority because lately, we have seen a slight change in the way the team is playing, let's take a look at the 13 game win streak.

During this incredible run, the pace the Rockets have been playing at is mysteriously low pace, they rank dead last (97.14). For a unit of measure let's look at the bottom of the league in Pace for February:
27. SAC    98.2
28. BRK    98.1
29. WAS    97.9
30. HOU    97.1
During their 11 game win streak this month, Houston is last in pace occupying the final spot in the NBA, 30th. Slowing the game down has helped them improve on the defensive end where they are 5th in Defensive PP100.

The Rockets have progressively slowed down their play in the last three months
Pace Rank in NBA:
December ranked  5th
January  ranked  12th
February ranked 30th

During the 13 game run, it's true the Rockets have been playing the slowest possible pace in the league, but they have been extremely efficient of the offensive end of the court. Attached to this streak,  the #1 offensive rating in the NBA (117.2), and the #5 defensive rating (102.9). This has enabled them to hold a net rating of +14.3, also leading the NBA.

Can it be that Coach Mike D'Antoni wants to keep his player's legs somewhat fresher for the postseason, or has he figured something out?

I know it's enticing to try and jump in on this steak and try to profit, just make sure when doing so, you find the best value.

For any questions or comments reach me at @JerryBoKnowz on twitter

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The Rockets got a steal at No. 3 overall. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images.

With the Astros absorbing their worst loss of the season Thursday night at the Yankees, here's to the Rockets! Wait, what? It's only educated guess work, but in landing Jabari Smith out of Auburn the Rockets had a spectacular night. Heaven knows they have had very few of those the last two years. After having to settle for the third pick in the NBA Draft despite being the worst team in the league again, in Smith the Rockets got the best player in the Draft. Of course Smith could be an epic flop, it’s very inexact science. But Orlando taking Paolo Banchero from Duke first then Oklahoma City selecting Gonzaga beanpole Chet Holmgren second left the "surest thing" two-way player on the board. Through most of the run-up to the draft the six-foot-10 inch Banchero was most commonly projected to the Rockets. It's not as if he would have been a bad choice as a player. Banchero certainly could turn out to be the best player in this draft class. But his game is skewed toward his offensive skills, his fit in Houston would have been quite questionable. The also 6-10 Smith has shown the vastly better outside shooting ability, and is indisputably more athletic and better equipped to defend at a higher level and with more versatility. Jabari Smith is not going to be Kevin Durant or Kevin Garnett. Let's at least call it extreeeeemely unlikely given very few in the history of the planet come close to those guys, still, envisioning Smith providing some KD and KG level moments on both ends of the floor is pretty, pretty, pretty good.

The Rockets' defense was an absolute joke last season. Little to no improvement was shown as the death march of 2021-22 dragged on and on and on to its 20-62 finish. Frankly if Head Coach Stephen Silas can't demand/develop vastly improved D this coming season he'll deserve and need to be fired. The Rockets love Alperen Sengun, and his rookie season offense showed both flair and promise. Defensively he was one of many parts of the joke. Just 20 years old late next month so some improvement should come, but Sengun is slow. Quick twitch muscles, slow. Lateral movement, slow. He’s not long, not a leaper, not thick. Sengun will be hard-pressed to become an average defender. In today's game he's the kind of big who quality small-ball opponents play off the court. Banchero would have been a lousy defensive pairing with Sengun. Smith-Sengun has a chance. Smith as a small-ball center has potential. Christian Wood was a dog, not in a good way. Smith’s character grades are very high.

The seven-foot 194 pound Holmgren has a fascinating array of skills. He could be Rudy Gobert defensively with way better offense, or a skinny guy who can’t hack it physically. Had the Thunder taken Smith at two, Holmgren to the Rockets would have been interesting. Getting Smith to pair with Jalen Green as the tent poles of the Rockets’ still long way to go reconstruction is more encouraging. With due respect to all the other first round picks added in 2021 and 2022, what Green and Smith become individually and as a tandem is what will foremost determine how long the Rockets remain horrible. It could go pretty well for the duo and the Rockets could still be awful for multiple more years. A third consecutive losing season is virtual certainty. By the end of it though at least a few meaningful rays of light at the end of the tunnel need to be peeking through.

As for the other two first rounders added Thursday night, both are interesting darts at the board. Tari Eason out of LSU brings defensive chops and size (six-foot-eight) for his position, a combo that exactly zero returning Rockets have. Jae’Sean Tate plays really hard, but he’s a six-four forward. All their Josh Christophers, Garrison Matthewses, Kenyon Martin Jrs., and David Nwabas add up to very little.

No one smart really believes in Kevin Porter Jr. as a long term winning point guard growth stock. TyTy Washington should get some rookie run at the point. He’s the only non-worthless to the team ex-Kentucky point guard on the Rockets’ roster. Yes, John Wall and his 47.3 million dollar salary are still on the roster.

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