NBA Betting – Rockets Search for D at OKC
Zack GarrisonNo comments
The Houston Rockets’ (25-23, 10-12 Away) lousy defense was exposed by the Spurs on Wednesday, and things could be just as bad when they visit the Chesapeake Energy Arena to face the Oklahoma City Thunder (35-13, 21-5 Home), tonight (8:00 PM Eastern).
The 130-99 loss to San Antonio ended Houston’s three game winning streak and put the team just two games above .500. The game was all but decided by halftime with the Spurs scoring 69 points in the opening 24 minutes and taking a 20-point lead into the break. Three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard had 13 points and eight rebounds in just over 22 minutes of action. The Rockets were out-rebounded 49-40 on the night.
Interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff isn’t letting one bad loss have more significance than it deserves, though.
“To get to where we want to be, we have to learn a lesson in these situations,” Bickerstaff said to the Associated Press. “At the beginning of the month [after a loss at San Antonio on Jan. 2], we set a goal for ourselves to go 11-5. We still have an opportunity to reach that goal.”
If they’re going to reach that goal, the defense will have to improve, starting tonight. The team is surrendering 106.1 points per game, fourth-worst in the entire NBA, while the Thunder are averaging 109.3 points per game, second-best in the league.
OKC’s potent offense has led the team to nine wins in the last ten. Kevin Durant had 27 points, including two huge buckets at the end of the game, in a tight 126-123 in Minnesota on Wednesday. Russell Westbrook added 24 points and 15 assists.
Though they’re winning games with the status quo, the Thunder also know the defense needs to get better if they’re going to seriously challenge the Warriors and Spurs come playoff time.
“We like to win, but at the same time know there’s room for improvement on the defensive end,” Westbrook told the AP. “We’ll definitely take our victories and get back home and get to the drawing board.”
The Thunder have been a good bet at home recently, going 5-0 ATS in their last five games as a home favorite. Laying 8.5 is a lot to a Rockets team that has the potential to beat anyone on any given night, but I expect OKC to capitalize on Houston’s shoddy defense and emerge with an easy win.
Pick: Thunder -8.5.