Houston Rockets vs. Milwauukee Bucks Preview and Pick

Houston Rockets -6.5 (31-20) at Milwaukee Bucks +6.5 (24-29) O/U 196 8 PM ET Monday February 9, 2009
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

Tonight the Houston Rockets travel north to play the Milwaukee Bucks. These are two teams that have had major injury problems this season. The Bucks are playing shorthanded lately without Michael Redd (out for the year with knee injury), Andrew Bogut (back problems), and Luke Ridnour (fractured thumb).

The Rockets were thought to be a legit threat in the Western Conference, but keeping Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, and Ron Artest on the court at the same time has been a problem. The Rockets are currently in 3rd place in the Southwest Division 4 games back of the San Antonio Spurs, while the Bucks are in 3rd place in the Central Division only a scant 17 games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. In their last 10 games the Rockets are 6-4, while the Bucks are 4-6.

Even though the Bucks are hurting they are still in the playoff picture, as they currently are in the 9th position in the Eastern Conference, while the Rockets are in the 6th position in the Western Conference.

This season the Bucks are 14-9 at home and the Rockets are 13-14 in away games.

Hoops bookies have the Rockets favored by 6.5 points with a total around 196 points. The Rockets are posted at -290 as away favorites and the Bucks are posted at +190 as home dogs.

The Rockets come into this game after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 107-90 on Saturday night. The high scorer for the Rockets in that game was Yao Ming going for 30 points on 12/18 shooting. For the game the Rockets shot 42/85 for a FG% of 49.4%. On D the Rockets allowed the T-Wolves to shoot 35/88 for a FG% of 39.8%.

The Bucks come into this game after losing a tough game to the Pistons 126-121 in OT on Saturday night. The high scorer for the Bucks in that game was Charlie Villanueva going for 33 points on 11/20 shooting. For the game the Bucks shot 41/84 for a FG% of 48.8%. On D the Bucks allowed the Pistons to shoot 45/97 for a FG% of 47.9%.

Neither of these teams are high scoring, as the Bucks rank 17th (98.5) and the Rockets rank 19th (98.2 ppg). On D both teams are decent, as the Rockets rank 9th in points allowed (95.2 ppg) and the Bucks rank 13th (98.7 ppg). Also, both teams are good at hitting the glass, as the Rockets have a rebounding differential of +2.5 rpg and the Bucks are at +1.4 rpg.

This season the Rockets are 23-27-1 ATS and the Bucks are 29-22-2. In terms of Over/Under the Rockets are 27-23-1 and the Bucks are 29-24.

On the injury front PF Andrew Bogut and PG Luke Ridnour are OUT for the Bucks and C Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks are day-to-day for the Rockets.

The Rockets have won 9 straight games over the Bucks.

Even though the Rockets are legit on D they have given up at least 104 points in their last 4 road games and are 1-3 in that stretch.

PG Ramon Sessions (11.4) and Richard Jefferson (17.4 ppg) will have to have big scoring games with all the starters for the Bucks out for the game. If the Rockets can limit both of these scoring options for the Bucks they should easily win this game.

Bucks C Dan Gadzuric (3.4 ppg) is not known for his defensive skills and he will be taken out high to guard Yao Ming (20 ppg), who can score both inside and by hitting the mid-range J.

The Bucks will have to play good inside D on Yao Ming and they cannot let Tracy McGrady slash to the hoop. If they can keep McGrady outside and relying on his J, they have a good chance to win.

The Rockets are a much better team and that would even be the case if the Bucks were healthy. Even though the Bucks have not lost consecutive home games this season they will have to play a great defensive game and hit a lot of 3 pointers in order to beat the Rockets.

Jason’s Pick: Rockets win straight up, but Milwaukee covers the spread.