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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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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